Saturday, February 12, 2011

2011 is the new 1977

If you watch this week's hockey highlights, 2011 looks more like 1977. I feel like I should be wearing bell bottoms not yoga pants.

Honestly when the Boston-Montreal slamfest happened I was amused. It was unexpected. It was unheard of (in the last 10 - 20 years or so) and it seemed harmless enough. I joked about Johnson and Depietra starting a new trend since they were the first goalies to drop the gloves.

But after the Penguins- Islanders slamfest last night I am no longer amused.

The Islanders took that to a whole new level. And it wasn't pretty. It wasn't classy. It shouldn't be without heavy repercussions.

I get retribution is a part of hockey. I fully understand that it's not going to go anywhere no matter what the NHL does. But just like anything, there is a right and wrong way to handle it.

In the "right" category - the way the Penguins handled the retribution on Steckel for giving Crosby a concussion. They dropped the gloves and duked it out and it ended there. Steckel manned up (unlike Steve Moore way back when) and faced his punishment.

The Isles wanted revenge on both Brent Johnson and Maxime Talbot for the goalie fight and the questionable hit. Fine. So if the fact that the Isles scored 6 goals before the 2nd was over wasn't good enough for them, then engage Talbot in a fight, engaged Johnson in a fight AND THEN MOVE ON.

That would have been the right thing to do and clearly the Islanders - as their season record shows - are all about the "wrong" thing (losing a lot and winning without class).

I don't want to go into all the gory details - although you can find them here and a million other places on the net. Here's what I do want to point out. This is the National Hockey League's opportunity to do the right thing.

The NHL has been acting like a shitty parent. Randomly tossing around punishments with no rhyme or reason. You can't keep blaming/punishing Cooke cuz he's the bad kid but cutting Getzlaf and Steckel and others slack because they're "normally such good boys". A hit that is dangerous is a hit that is dangerous - no matter the intention the injury (and the anger of the team losing a player) is real.

Matt Martin's sucker punch of Max Talbot can in NO WAY be overlooked. The fact that Talbot skated away - unlike Moore - should NOT be a factor. If the league lets the extent of an injury be the leading factor in punishment instead of the dangerous act then it's the same as a judge saying "I know you shot a gun at this guy's face but you missed so it's fine."

The league may want to turn their famous blind-eye to the Gillies hit on Tangradi but they definitely shouldn't ignore the way Gillies kept attacking the guy who was clearly injured and fighting for consciousness. The only thing more offensive and classless than that, is Gillies moustache.

I'm not sure how big a suspension should be handed down to Hayley. The recent AHL call-up was like a rabid dog out there swinging at everything in a Pens jersey. I find it mostly just disturbing that the kid really thought that was the best way to make his NHL debut. Sure right now the Isles fans - all 12 of them - think he's a rockstar but 2 seasons from now he'll be begrudgingly looked at as their version of Cooke/Avery/Carcillo. Is that really a reputation that a boy dreams about earning?

The Penguins Godard leaving the bench was ridiculous. Johnson clearly proved prior that he could handle himself in a fight. But that said I couldn’t imagine the anger, fear and frustration that had developed at that point. Godard should get his mandatory suspension but Bylsma should be left out of it. If you penalize Bylsma you really have to look at the lack of control Capuano had over his team too. No one left the bench but just about every Islander was out of control. I believe Crawford took a hit (fine) for Bertuzzi's actions - the league should consider depleting Capuano's pocketbook for the Martin sucker punch too. That is if they feel like being consistent and making a statement that may stop this from happening in the future.

Come on NHL, let's put a stop to the time warp. Maybe everything old should not be new again.

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