Turn The Clock Back


If an outside observer was to watch this years Stanley Cup tournament, they would probably have mixed emotions.  People over the age of fifty would have a fond recollection of an age in NHL hockey which resembled a number of scenes from the movie “Roadhouse”.  The younger generation might be excited and enjoying this as though it is unique, when it’s really just a sad turn back to an inferior game of hockey.  The product was awful in the 70’s not because of the fighting in and of itself, rather because the skill of the players on the ice degraded to only allow those that were large enough to scrap to be successful.

To use a quote from stand up comedian Dennis Miller, “I don’t want to go off on a rant here”, but the game of hockey has made signifigant strides since the age of the ape.  The days of the Big Bad Bruins and the Broad Street Bullies often get romanticized in a fashion that makes it seem like the game was just so much better, when in fact the opposite was true.  If you have access to NHL vault, I implore you to spend some hours watching the games from the decade, and try and compare to what the normal evening is like today.  The difference is staggering and not in the impressive sense.  The play was slow, and games often took hours to get through simply because of the amount of extracurricular activities.  Now I was not alive to observe in this decade, but I can promise you that if the games that are displayed as classic were the best available, you would not want to see the worst.

The part that gets very much overlooked in this game of stupidity from years ago is that players like Daniel Briere and Claude Giroux never would have been able to survive.  The best hockey game in the world should be reserved for the most skilled players, not a group of testosterone driven street fighters with some kind of internal code.  Hockey is a great game without this nonsense, and it is sad that it is getting dragged down.  I do not personally subscribe to the anti fighting crowd, but the WWE style nonsense that has occurred almost every other night in this opening round really needs to stop.  It may encourage the likes of personalities such as Don Cherry and Mike Milbury, but make no mistake it is casting a huge black eye in the United States.

The moral righteousness which governs all that is done in the U.S.A. whether right or wrong, is looking very keenly at this kind of stuff.  Several states have legislation against mixed martial arts events and the group claiming to be on the side of the angels abhors violence of any nature.  This is part of why the NFL is acting so stern in it’s dealing with the New Orleans Saints organization.

The very worst part about the events of the last week is that they really strike an internal fear which the NHL offices must have forgotten.  Does anybody remember the tear filled press conference offered by Todd Bertuzzi after the game of hockey had perhaps one of it’s more defining moments?  Compare the event that night to the actions of Senator Matt Carkner on Saturday, and what you see is something far worse.  While Carkner did not beat Brian Boyle anywhere near as badly as Bertuzzi did to Steve Moore, he at least showed remorse for the event.  Carkner was actually more vigilant and defiant after the game than before anything happened.  This type of recklessness has become out of control, and without mitigation it’s getting to the point that something bad may actually happen.

The NHL should work double speed to get the game in the news for the right reasons rather than daily music video style announcements regarding suspensions.  Issue real connsequences for these type of infractions instead of single game bans.  Use every lever in the cockpit to turn the ship back in the right direction before it can’t be fixed.  Lessons have already been taught regarding these types of things, now becomes the time to find out if anything was learned.  Have a conference call with all of the teams demanding the garbage be stopped.  Otherwise, there may well be another tearful press conference and years of litigation worth of trying to correct a problem that should have already been fixed.

In Dennis Miller style, “But hey, that’s just my opinion”

And for those that speak of respect in hockey, there is no less now that there ever was.  This myth that everybody handled themselves with dignity in some golden age is truly nonsense.  The players play an intense game at a high level of speed, and sometimes things happen.  While this may not be the case in punching somebody repeatedly that has no interest in fighting back, most hits happen at blazing speed with little or no time to react.  Let’s stop slowing things down to frames per second slow motion and inserting some calculated intent on every hit that occurs.  This is not to say that hits don’t need to be reviewed an disciplined, but let the office in charge (allegedly) take care of this, and otherwise leave it alone.

On this note, good on Henrik Sedin for acknowledging that the hit delivered by Dustin Brown was clean.  It has become far too easy to turn the press conferences following the game into a soapbox used to demand justice.  Sedin chose not to go that route and f

or this he should be commended.