Last night, ESPN's Stephen A. Smith went on a emotional rant regarding the current records of the Miami Heat and the Chicago Blackhawks. He compared the two, saying that the three ties on the Hawks' record makes them "inferior" to the Heat. Yahoo!'s Puck Daddy blog has the full report.
His comments are ignorant, factually unsupported, and completely out of line.
First, let's consider a very simple aspect of both team's records in their given sport. On one hand, The Miami Heat sit atop the NBA's Eastern Conference with a record of 44-14, winning their last 15 straight.
With three more games played, the San Antonio Spurs currently have the best record in the NBA with 47-14, and hold the top spot in the Western Conference, which has also been considered the tougher conference of the two. Nevertheless, the records of both teams in the NBA are quite similar, leaving an open-ended argument as to which team is the best overall this season.
While I respect a 15-game winning streak, didn't the Houston Rockets go on a legendary 22-game winning streak to make the playoffs in 2008? Furthermore, comparing the starting rotations of both the 2007-08 Rockets and 2012-13 Heat makes this argument all too easy.
In my opinion, the likes of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh should be capable of more. Tracy McGrady, Dikembe Mutombo and Luis Scola did better. So I apologize if I'm not ecstatic about the Heat's 15 wins in a row.
On the other hand, the Chicago Blackhawks hold a record of 19-0-3. Notice the big 0? This means the Blackhawks have yet to lose in regulation time. If that's not enough, the 'Hawks have only lost in shootouts, meaning their opponents have yet to score in overtime.
THESE ARE NOT TIES. Does he know there aren't ties in the NHL? I'd hope so.
Not to mention, the Blackhawks are pulling off this wonderful record in a shortened season, where some players didn't even see the ice until the NHL resumed play. Shortened training camps, condensed schedules and lack of playing time together are major reasons as to why this feat is quite extraordinary.
Let's not even compare the physicality and parity aspects of both sports. The NHL wins in both categories with flying colors. Looking at the last 30 years of NBA champions would prove that the parity of the NBA is laughable.
Therefore, does Mr. S.A.S. understand the difficulty of accomplishing this in the NHL? I would assume not if he was unaware the Columbus Blue Jackets even existed.
ESPN should be ashamed with his comments, as it only furthers the argument that their NHL coverage is atrocious, and needs tremendous improvement to be considered a viable source of NHL knowledge and information. With only seven of the 30 NHL franchises located in Canada, this is unacceptable.
Hopefully something can be done about this soon, or NHL fans will continue to lose faith in America's leading broadcaster of professional sports.