The Assault on “Dry Island”

I suppose it’s not surprising that when a land is defended by vanilla milkshake drinkers and naive goody-two-shoes, that the land is soon overrun.

“Dry Island” has been under assault, almost from the very moment that Dan Gross wrote about coach Peter Laviolette’s attempts to get the Flyers players to pledge a month of sobriety. Two of the players who didn’t take pledge were shipped out, and that has started people talking.

Some of the criticism of the “Dry Island” column has been legitimate. Note the piece was written by one of the newspaper’s entertainment reporters, not one of the sports reporters who would have known the team and the players better.

Note the story doesn’t put the Flyers’ trade in context. Philadelphia was dealing with salary cap issues after signing goalie Ilya Bryzgalov. Plus, the Flyers trades of Mike Richards and Jeff Carter actually made hockey sense.

General Manager Paul Holmgren is known for making bold moves, so it’s not like this effort to reshape his team is uncharacteristic.

And common sense says you don’t take a playoff caliber team and give it a makeover just because the local bars’ profits are a little too healthy.

But other criticisms of the story have been curious at best.

Instead of defending Carter and Richards by pointing out the story is likely overblown, fans have shrugged and said, “They’re good players. What should it matter if they’re lifestyle is a little more Judas Priest than actual priest?”

My answer would be, “Sure. They’re good players, but if they could be better players, why wouldn’t that be an issue? Don’t we want our athletes to be at their best?”

I agree with Blue Jackets coach Scott Arniel, who preaches the virtue of fitness…and diet. (Remember how he had the team’s prospects take cooking classes this summer?) And last time I checked, vodka is not one of the four basic food groups.

And even if you disagree with that, remember that hockey is a team sport. If there’s a Blue Jackets veteran who’s a heavy (not moderate) drinker, but he’s still an All-Star, why might it be a problem? Because of the rookie who’s trying to figure out how to make it in the league and who has a less than stellar role model.

Does that mean you should you be worried about the reports about Jeff Carter’s nightlife if you’re a Jackets fan? No.

Like I said, I doubt that Carter was truly living la vida loca or trying to emulate Charlie Sheen. (His agent called the column, “Bull $^!%.”)  And if Carter was, he’s surely going to try to prove his critics wrong, maybe not by becoming the mayor of “Dry Island,” but perhaps one of its tourists.

And that’s good news, because a Jackets squad that is committed both on and off the ice will have a much better chance of drinking from Lord Stanley’s Cup.

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