Wednesday, March 10, 2004
Bertuzzin' for a Bruisin'
I finally saw the hit Bertuzzi laid on Steve Moore. Yes, it was a sucker punch. Yes, it was stupid. Yes, he should be suspended. I'm fine with even 25 or 30 games. But, for god's sake can we cut with the histrionics about how awful this guy is and how he should be kicked out for a year or expelled from the league or put in jail or whatever cockamamie idea people are throwing out there on sports talk radio.
First, the hit is not what broke the guy's neck. The fall to the ice is. Yes, Bertuzzi was responsible for the falling, but Moore ducks his head at the last second, and it is the angle of his head and the force from the ice that is breaking the guy's neck. Moore was simply unlucky.
Second, in addition to Bertuzzi's likely suspension, I'm sure the organization will face a fine, too. But, the league needs to start looking at coaches and giving them suspensions and fines, too. Regardless of whether Marc Crawford knew about the retaliation plans or encouraged them or drafted them, the coach needs to be held responsible. When a pit bull is off its leash and mauls some damned toddler, infant, or even a grownup to death, sure the pit bull is punished (by death), but the owner faces charges too for not keeping the damned dog on a leash or otherwise restrained. These coaches have influence over what happens, and they have a role to play in enforcing good habits in their players; and, they may accept it finally if they face punishment. That way we can deal with the Pat Quinn's of the world in addition to the Tie Domis.
Third, does the fact that he was sucker-punched (and unjustly at that) really make this any worse than the ridiculous fights that the league already allows? O.k., so in those the participants are willing. Great. Is it any less barbaric? Is it any less ridiculous of a display of sportsmanship? It's a wonder nobody has died in any of these fights. I mean, if a hockey parent can kill another hockey parent, are these guys really trying? Anyway, I'm looking forward to the day somebody dies in an on-ice fight. That's probably what it will take to get fighting out of the NHL. Look what it did for putting netting around the rink.
In the meantime, widen the rink, lengthen the rink, make these guys have to skate some more, and find some refs that will call all the ridiculous stick work that goes on away from the puck; they'll be too damned tired to fight and we can finally watch some damned hockey.
And speaking of ridiculous stick work, I watched the Boston Bruins just rip out the hearts of the Nashville Predators last night. Not just with Joe Thornton's goals and the Predators' inability to match up to a physical center and knock him off the puck. No, they gouged it out with more hooking and stick-holding than I think I've ever seen in a hockey game. Just ridiculous amounts of obstruction. The refs could have called twice as many penalties against the B's as they did; and, god knows the Predators needed it because they were completely incapable of generating any even strength offense, largely because they couldn't (or wouldn't) skate the puck in, preferring instead to dump and chase, which isn't a bad strategy necessarily provided your forwards are willing to check somebody. But, few on the Predators can, and fewer still will. This run of games against East coast teams has demonstrated how un-physical the Preds truly are--and I don't necessarily mean fighting, though that seems to come with the territory--after getting bounced around by Philly, Ottawa, and now Boston.
On the bright side, if the Preds pull a huge fade, at least I won't have to pay anything for playoff tickets; I upgraded to the lower bowl and the $60 seats. It's money I'd lovingly spend, but I'm skeptical and anyway, I could probably use the money in better ways.
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