Barry Melrose Failed: ESPN discussion of NHL vs. NBA Streaks


Barry, Barry, Barry… You have failed to defend hockey on ESPN – the all powerful sports network that tends to pick and chose coverage based on their own needs and has time and time again shunned, disrespected, and abused Hockey. Hockey, Barry, is the sport that gave you everything and the sport you claim to love.

The entire thing started when Stephen A. Smith, a loud mouth flapper that spews more irrelevant information about “sports” (Miami Heat) than an entire season of the Kardashians, disrespectfully bashed the 21-game streak where the Chicago Blackhawks have collected at least a point.  Again, just to make sure we are aware of what is happening here, Chicago Blackhawks are riding a 21-game point streak. The incident enraged hockey fans, but being jaded by ESPN we dismissed it as nothing new.

Greg Wyshnynski details and appropriately scorns the entire thing here.

His interviewer, Sara Walsh (she has covered hockey full time before), failed to correct and put Mr.Smith in his place. A few days later we get this chance when Barry Melrose himself, the most popular name in mainstream (ESPN) hockey in the US, is sitting one-on-one with a chance to set the record straight on behalf of our beloved hockey nation.


Ties? The only ties that exist in hockey are the ones the players wear to the game and cost about 50 bucks a pop. What are you talking about Barry? The three point play is not a tie. We are not talking about a winning streak anyway. Ahh… *bashing head against wall*

Before I have an aneurysm of my brain, let me break down some points that should have been made about how difficult the Chicago Blackhawks current streak really is:

  • Chicago Blackhawks had 18 skaters play their last game against the Detroit Red Wings. With only four of those players’ playing less than 14 minutes played
  • Miami Heat had ten players starting and had only 6 players that played more than 16 minutes in their last game against New York Knicks

You see the difference here, right? How good would the Hawks be if they could ice their top six 80% of the game? LeBron James played 43 minutes out of the 48 minutes total.  So you are telling me basketball is a team sport in the same way hockey is? Yeah…for a team of two or three players that dominate each game. The more players you add and the more time you have, the more variables, bounces, and unusual things that could happen. To continue a streak like this you need to have all 18-21 players playing at absolute 100 percent at all times and requires your big guns to be clutch.  This is not a slight toward basketball – instead I am just pointing out a major difference in how much teams rely on its players.

Oh, and how often do these winning streaks happen in basketball? 22-game winning streak by the Houston Rockets in 07-08, Boston Celtics 19-game winning streak 08-09, Phoenix Suns had 17 games in 06-07, Dallas Mavericks with 17 games in 06-07,  Los Angeles Clippers had 12-13 with 17 games…umm get on their level, Heat. Wow, the 14-game winning streak does not seem too special, now does it.

Parity? Do not talk about parity in basketball. How many times did LA win? 5 teams won the NBA championship since 2000. 11 teams in hockey have won the championship in the same span. So do not tell me about parity A. Smith, because you have no clue what you are talking about when it comes to hockey.

If someone would look at the streak too, the fact remains that almost every game summary reads “LeBron James….” He dominates the sport and the streak. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but the problem is that even as how dominant he is, if we look at the most dominant player ever in NHL, Wayne Gretzky, he still lost because in hockey you have something that basketball does not – a goalie.  And added to that, even Gretzky was only on the ice half the time at most, compared with LeBron who plays 3/4 of a game on most nights.

A goalie is similar to a pitcher in baseball where you really can’t box him out, keep the puck away from him, or pitch around him. You have to face him and you have to beat him. That is a big deal. At any point in time a hot goalie/pitcher can put an end to any streak. A hot goalie can steal a game and they almost have stole a few games from the Chicago Blackhawks, yet they answered only with even better goaltending..and two of them.

Comparing these streaks is irrelevant to begin with, and what Miami is doing is impressive. The issue here is that how dismissive A.Smith is of the Chicago Blackhawks’ streak. The fact is that no one has even come close to this streak in recent years is just proof of how difficult it is to do in hockey.


599200_10151526504865619_352804270_nMiami plays in a horrible division and Chicago Blackhawks play in one of the toughest divisions in hockey. The tough does not only come from the skill but the physicality of the sport and the added bruising of the condensed schedule.  Have you forgotten this point Barry? Do we not have the toughest trophy in sports? There is a reason it is called that. Our sport demands everything from players at all times and during a condensed season it is only magnified. No offense to basketball players, but there is a reason why a 55 second shift in NHL is considered a really long time.


It is apples and oranges after all, but Barry could have put up a bigger argument than he had. He basically alluded to some of the points above, but did not slam them home. He obviously knows hockey, played hockey, and coached hockey. I can’t imagine how he did not do a better job and just accepted the dumb loud shouting by A. Smith about ties…that do not exist in Hockey.

PS: Blackhawks’ streak a once-every-700-years occurrence says math prof

What are other points did Barry and I miss? Please feel free to comment below.

Don’t forget to follow our hockey department on Twitter – @LastWordOnNHL, @BigMick99 and @LastWordBKerr.  And give the site a follow while you’re at it – @LastWordOnSport.

photo credit: Eric Kilby via photopin cc


  1. One of my favorite things to point out about this streak is that the three losses came in a shootout – so in gameplay, the Blackhawks have never been trailing at the end of a game. To clarify, no team has been able to out score them this year.