11:50 AM CDT, June 7, 2011
In the Stanley Cup Finals, the greatest showcase of all playoff rounds, the NHL is stuck with despicable biting and now a frightening blindside hit that resulted in a player being stretchered off the ice to the hospital.
You could say the NHL is getting what it deserves. Blackhawks fans would say it.
The biting is reprehensible, the blindside hit is deplorable. Both classless acts were unleashed by -- ta-da! -- the Vancouver Canucks. But you could’ve guessed that, right?
Alex Burrows, the cowardly hair-puller, chomped on Patrice Bergeron’s finger in Game 1. Then in Game 3 on Monday, Aaron Rome lined up a defenseless Nathan Horton with a vicious and ridiculous hit to the head.
The rightfully angry Bruins destroyed the Canucks 8-1 after the cheap shot. The Bruins got motivated. The league got dirtied.
Thing is, the NHL might’ve avoided the continued cheap and gutless play of the Canucks and spared the league further shame amid the jewel of its season if somebody had brains or backbone when the cheap and gutless Canucks faced the Blackhawks.
If you recall in the first series, fourth-line punk Raffi Torres blindsided Hawks defenseman Brent Seabrook behind the net. Seabrook was looking to his left as Torres roared in from the right. Seabrook never played the puck. Torres played Seabrook’s head. Concussion to follow.
But no suspension.
The NHL found nothing wrong with the play. Colin Campbell said it was some kind of danger zone or action zone or Gasoline Alley behind the net. Players had never heard of it, but apparently, anything goes, especially Campbell, who was removed as the NHL’s warden before we even got to the finals. Connect the dots, people.
Everybody in the world outside of Vancouver and Campbell’s office knew that was a suspendable offense.
The NHL allowed a ranking executive to embarrass itself at the height of its campaign to eliminate hits to the head like the one unleashed by the cheap and gutless Canucks.
You can imagine how the cheap and gutless Canucks felt emboldened. If you can get away with that, you can get away with anything. Or you can at least try.
And so, in Game 1 of the NHL’s prized playoff round, the cheap and gutless Canucks left the league with a mouthful of stupid. Burrows bit Bergeron, but the man replacing Campbell found nothing wrong. If that office couldn’t identify a blatant cheap shot like Torres’, then it was never going to figure out Burrows’ biting.
On the ice, the cheap and gutless Canucks flaunted the act for which Burrows went unpunished, and it was Burrows who scored a remarkable overtime winner to put the cheap and gutless Canucks up two games to none. For those of you scoring at home, the cheap and gutless Canucks got the game-winner in the opener from the guy who blindsided Seabrook.
It seemed impossible to avoid a suspension for Rome, who was given a four-game suspension. Apparently, even the NHL can see a blindside hit to the head, no puck, laid out, YouTubed all over the place.
Hey, wait, that’s exactly what happened to Seabrook, but there was no punishment beyond the shame the league endured. The NHL did the right thing with Rome, making the lack of suspension for Torres an even bigger joke. I thought the NHL had made progress in rules and applying them consistently, but I guess you still never know when the NHL will step on its stick.
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