December 7th … A Night To Forget
I woke up this morning to twitter and re watched the series of events from last nights Bruins-Pens game. I automatically had a reaction to the senseless acts from James Neal and Shawn Thornton, but wanted to see if sleeping on it and reviewing them again would soften my stance. The answer is NO.
Lets start by reviewing the facts and events that happened. 15 seconds from puck drop, Brooks Orpik absolutely lambastes an unsuspecting Loui Eriksson. Could it have been a penalty? Maybe… On another day, another arena, another ref probably, but it wasn’t. Orpik is a big hitter and timed what he thought was a perfectly clean shoulder to chest body check. I tend to agree. Zdeno Chara and Shawn Thornton do what good captains and great teammates do…They stand up and challenge Orpik for concussing one of their star players. Many feel that you don’t have to answer for clean hits but those are mostly from people that never have laced em up or have never played at the level that these guys play. Big hits are a part of the game. So is intimidation and defending teammates. So I love what Boston did in defending Eriksson early on.
As the game develops it becomes apparent that there will be scores to settle and I’m not talking about anything with a red light. Brad Marchand is a Rat. Trust me I know. It was my nickname for 15 years. He is very good at it. He trash talks, uses his stick behind the play and will do anything to get an edge or piss someone off. My guess is he did something to Neal earlier or behind the play to get Neal. Something we didn’t see. I’ll say what we aren’t supposed to say. He probably deserved the knee to the head. A play that was very easily avoided even for a 6 year old learning to skate let alone an elite player vying for a spot on an Olympic team. I know I deserved a lot of the slashes, punches, eye gauges, that I received. I also loved it because it meant I was doing my job and usually putting my team on the pp which gave us the edge.
James Neal who I respect as a player and a person deserves more than the suspension he is going to receive. He will have a hearing with Brendan Shanahan, head of NHL player safety Monday but will receive a max of 5 games because it is an over the phone hearing. This was exactly the kind of play we are trying to get rid of even if Marchand probably deserved it. My guess is that because Marchand never left the game and wasn’t seriously injured Neal will receive 4 games but to me the act was far worse than that. In my opinion it’s a hit to the head, with a knee none the less, and little remorse after in post game comments. If I were handing the suspension out it would be 10 games.
Shawn Thornton is a great teammate. I played with Shawn in Chicago. I fought him when I was with Dallas. I continue to talk to him years after I retired, for in game insight, interviews, and because I really think he is a great guy. To me he epitomizes what I think a tough guy in the year 2013 should look like. 1- very tough 2-team 1st 3-play valuable minutes 4- honorable. Saturday night he exemplified a lot of what I love about him. Stood up for a teammate. Tried to put the team 1st but honorable was NO where in sight. What Thornton did was disgusting. He wanted a fight and wanted to make Orpik pay for hurting one of their stars. He wanted to show everyone that Boston will not be bullied and that there is a price to pay for hurting one of theirs. I love that mentality and always will. Sue me!! That’s who I am. Once Orpik was obvious in showing that he wanted nothing to do with fighting, that’s where it should have ended. Instead Thornton took it upon himself to slew foot, knockout, and continue to punch away at a defenseless player. Could he have hurt him more?? Yes. He could have dropped his gloves and inflicted more pain but fact is Orpic left on a stretcher after refusing to engage. Not something we ever want to see. Whether you think the Orpik hit was late, or to the head, or just plain too hard, what happened to him must be dealt with and dealt with severity. Actions speak louder than words. Thornton was apologetic after the game and rightfully so. Doesn’t matter. We talk weekly about a new incident, usually ones of stupidity, and this is the perfect spot for the league to send a real message. A real message to me is 15-20 games.
I mentioned earlier that I woke up to twitter. Some dm’s from players, some from fans, and some from just idiotic people that probably live in their parents basements as 30 year olds. Krys Barch asked ‟Do you feel Orpik would think twice about running Eriksson if the instigator rule were in place? Fear as a deterrent”.
I really feel that the game is better with the instigator rule in the game. I do feel that it makes players think twice before doing stupid things and holds players more accountable. Having said that I played with Darius Kasparaitis and he would blow your knee out, elbow you to head, or knock you out without any hesitation. He was willing to be jumped and pummeled as a result. I played with the same mentality and used the rule to my advantage. I knew if I ran around and played on the edge that I could get players to lose control. There are times that I turtled but only to put my team on the pp. I fought when I wanted and ONLY when I wanted but it ended up I liked it a lot too. So the answer Krys is that I think Orpik still would have run over Eriksson and Thornton still would have taken it to the extreme.
I said that I received dm’s from players that they are shocked at what I said. People close to the situation. That Marchand deserved it. Plays like a rat and coming from me I am a hypocrite. I take serious offense to that. I have often said that I wouldn’t or couldn’t work for a team because I need to be honest and truthful and working for teams doesn’t always allow you the ability to do that. I have made mistakes in my life and I don’t judge people differently because I understand where I was and if you were in my shoes you might understand. Either way I deserved to be punished for my actions at that time. I also played on the edge and sometimes over, but also played in a different era. We got away with more, and the rules were more lenient. It doesn’t make what I did right but I also learned what was acceptable and what was not. I have also said it over and over that the game has never been better. The players were never more talented than they are now but, there has never been as much stupidity in our game as there is now! Brendan Shanahan has to send a message. One that will not be brushed under the carpet or not leave a mark. That Krys Barch will be the biggest deterrent.
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