If you’re tired of reading about Micheal Haley, let me be the first to tell you I’m tired of writing about him. Haley is probably tired of me writing about him, too. This isn’t the first time I’ve had to write a piece like this. I did it when Mike Brown played for the Sharks and when John Scott wore teal, too. It comes up again because Paul Gackle decided it wasn’t enough to write a feature on Haley. He had to include this gem in there.
Despite his reliability, intelligence and defensive awareness, Haley continues to be cast as a villain on online blogs and social media, inheriting the role from John Scott and Mike Brown, who were also public enemy No. 1 to the portion of the Sharks fan base that believes an old-school devotion to fighting is keeping high-end skill out of the game.
“I think it’s ridiculous,” DeBoer said when asked about the criticism of Haley. “I’d like to give whoever those people are a couple minutes alone with him in a room. I mean, give me a break.
“I don’t read that stuff, and for a guy like him, the ultimate respect is from the guys you’re sitting beside and he has that in spades from our dressing room.”
There are a couple of things to note here. Let’s start with Pete DeBoer’s nonsense. Assuming critics think Haley is unintelligent because he fights is abhorrent and, in my opinion, reveals how the hockey community looks at these guys more than the “blogging community.” I think nothing of the sort about Haley. Nothing about Haley suggests to me he isn’t a smart guy. I don’t know a thing about him other than what I see on the ice.
My favorite part about DeBoer’s quote is the second bit, where he says “he doesn’t read that stuff” after directly responding to “that stuff.” Good one, Pete! Keep giving us those sweet clicks, big guy!
Moving on to Gackle’s comment about Haley being made “a villain” by Sharks fans. Listen, I certainly don’t speak for a damn soul on this planet other than myself, but Haley is not a villain. I make a chunk of beer money every month to write about the Sharks. That’s why you read this website, presumably. That’s my job.
So if I think the Sharks are better off lining up in X way or if I think DeBoer should dress X Player on the fourth line, I’m going to write about it. That’s what my boss wants me to do. DeBoer playing Haley on the fourth line while scratching players who could do the job better, like Joel Ward, Matt Nieto or Tommy Wingels, is a mistake.
You can disagree with that take — and certainly many of you have and will. That’s fine. But don’t mischaracterize what I’m saying, because that’s immensely lazy journalism. Haley isn’t a bad guy, and he’s frankly not a bad hockey player. The Sharks have an embarrassment of riches on both their NHL and AHL roster and that means there isn’t room for Haley. That’s not an indictment on him as a player and it sure as hell isn’t one on him as a person.
Other writers might be willing to take potshots at a player’s character over their play on the ice, but I’m not one of them. You can go find that somewhere else.