With one game left in the regular season — and their playoff chances eliminated long before that point — the Dallas Stars announced that center Tyler Seguin had been held out of practice for showing up late.
Per Mike Heika, Stars head coach Lindy Ruff confirmed that tardiness was the issue at hand. Ruff went on to confirm that the team would handle the situation internally.
While we’d like to think that we don’t care whether a player is late to practice or not — and this isn’t Seguin’s first time making the headlines for doing so — the polarizing debate a repeat incident like this sparks is hard to ignore. When you consider that Seguin’s reported off ice issues were a key component to the blockbuster deal which sent him out of Boston, ignoring it becomes even harder — then you realize that the Bruins are in danger of missing the playoffs, and all hell breaks loose.
There’s no right or wrong way to look at ‘off-ice issues’ in the NHL; it’s tough enough to define clearly, and confidently asserting an opinion on the effect it has on a team is even harder. In some instances, it seems that little things like being late to practice — which Toronto Maple Leafs center Nazem Kadri was suspended for earlier in the season — have little effect on how the locker room interacts. In other instances, though, tension builds with every little offense and escalates to the situation seen in Winnipeg prior to the Evander Kane trade — and as a player who’s already been moved for a similar rap sheet, Tyler Seguin’s tardiness is, unfortunately, headline-making.
This season alone, Seguin has been knocked for his offensive on-air comments regarding Henrik and Daniel Sedin of the Vancouver Canucks, which he and captain Jamie Benn apologized for later through the team. He’s also a former King Clancy Trophy nominee, as he donates a luxury suite — complete with food and beverage free of charge — to individuals with spinal cord injuries. In 2014, over 500 individuals attended games on his behalf through the program. He’s raised over $20,000 for hockey development programs in Texas, and donated the hats thrown on the ice during his hat tricks to the Dallas Children’s Medical Center.
It’s easy to look at the good a player provides and ignore growing problems, which — likely — head coach Lindy Ruff is trying to prevent by allowing no late passes to the free-wheeling 23-year old star. It’s also easy to look at the behavior problems, though, and forget that he’s 23; so long as the atmosphere in the Dallas locker room doesn’t become toxic as a result of ‘little things’, this may just be Ruff’s way of making sure Seguin knows — rules are rules, and respecting them is respecting the team.