A dark time for hockey?? Let’s reel it in a little folks…
OK I know I’ve been pretty hard on Patrice Cormier this week and made it clear these head shots HAVE to be curbed for the better of the game and blah, blah, blah. But all this talk of dark days and disgracing the game and black marks on the game and so on, is getting ridiculous.
I know Cormier’s hit came just days after a less-reported hit in the Ontario Hockey League, when the Windsor Spitfires Zack Kassian left his feet to blindside the Barrie Colts Matt Kennedy. Footage here:
And I know the NHL just suspended Andy Sutton – and rightly so – two games for his brutal check-from-behind on Pascal Dupuis. Seen here (warning, not nice):
But, as gut-wrenching as these hits were and as savage an elbow as Cormier laid, are these all blemishes of hockey’s good name compared to other sports, or just in comparison to hockey? My point being:
Is all this comparable to, let’s say, Marty McSorley two-handing Donald Brashear in the side of the head, one of hockey’s most infamous moments?
Maybe. Probably not but, for argument’s sake, maybe.
So if we’re comparing the last two weeks to other moments in hockey’s history, then I’m not going to get worked up. But if anyone takes these dirty hits and uses them as excuses to call hockey a disgrace against other pro sports, then we have a problem here.
Is Cormier’s elbow still a “black mark” for hockey when put up against an athlete accidentally shooting himself in the leg? I didn’t think so either. How about doggy death matches in the back yard? No to that too then? So I guess we can safely scratch football off the list.
How does Cormier’s hit stack up against pulling a gun on a teammate? I’m thinking not at all but I’ll respect your opinion as well. How about that teammate returning the favour? Closer for sure but still not there yet. What about a referee gambling on games he officiates? Still a bit off? Well I guess that excuses basketball.
And lastly, does an elbow thrown by one 19-year-old shmuck still go down as a dark moment in hockey’s history when compared to a sport where only 11 guys in the last 20 years could find the field without intravenously-injecting a cement-truck-full of horse steroids?
I’m totally on the fence on this one, so I’ll let you decide.
In the meantime, let’s remember that hockey is still great, even with the constant risk of bodily harm. And almost all of those making it to the pros are informed of the contact beforehand.