Matt Cooke. Alexander Ovechkin. Steve Downie. James Wisn;asdj;fski. There will be a brief mention about it in tomorrow’s “I Might Just Be a California Hockey Fan” segment; but after that I’m done. Just like most of you, I’m sick of thinking about it. I’m sick of arguing about it. And I’m sick of writing about it. There are better things going on in the NHL—much more positive things that I’d rather focus my attention on.
It seems like the biggest stories lately have been of dirty hits, arguing fans, and suspensions (or lack thereof). Maybe it’s because Colin Campbell opened the door to this when he said that Matt Cooke wouldn’t be suspended because of the prior precedent that was set in the aftermath of the Mike Richards/David Booth incident. Maybe it’s because the instigator rule has been put in place severely limiting the players’ ability to “handle it on the ice.” Maybe there’s just not the same respect among the players that there used to be and maybe it’s just a really bad wave of questionable hits happening at the same time. Unfortunately, it’s probably a little bit of everything.
It’s unfortunate because this is SUPPOSED to be one of the most exciting times in the NHL season. After the Olympic break, we all expected a “sprint to the finish” with the hottest teams making runs for the playoffs. Before the break, about 25 times still had legitimate chances to make the playoffs. Unless you lived in Toronto, Edmonton, Carolina, or Columbus, you could sit back during the break and look forward to a quick start when the season resumed. Just about everyone had hope.
Instead of focusing on teams like the Canadiens or Coyotes who have been streaking towards the playoffs, we’re dealing with future rule changes, dirty plays, and suspensions on a semi-daily basis. I’d rather be talking about how the Blackhawks are showing Chicago the best hockey they’ve seen in two decades. Instead, we’re talking about how many healthy defensemen they’ll have for the rest of the season.
I sincerely hope that we’ve seen the end of these dirty hits for the rest of the season. Maybe James Wisniewski’s suspension will knock some sense into players, like Wisniewski himself who said, “I didn’t do anything wrong.” Maybe other players will see that finally a suspension was handed down and players will finally think twice before they “go full retard.” It probably won’t, but a guy can hope.
For those of you who want one last look, here’s Wisniewski’s hit on Brent Seabrook (and the aftermath). Hope you enjoy it, because I’m done with this for the rest of the season.
Alright, now that we have that out of the way, can we finally get back to some real hockey? Please and thank you.