A long time ago – in a Galaxy far , far, away…
The Montreal Canadiens were winning Stanley Cups on an annual basis and the Boston Bruins were their favorite whipping boys. Black and Gold did not mix well with Red , White and Blue. The two teams enjoyed each other’s company less than Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor yet just like the on – again , off – again couple , The Bruins and the Habs kept fighting.
It is hard to recall the final time that Massachusetts’ finest and the Flyin’ non – Frenchmen despised one another.There are moments , such as Pacioretty’s little shove to Chara’s back the last time the team’s encountered one another. Let’s face it . The Brouhaha at the end of the game was a mere speck in the history of the team’s wars. Had Steve Shutt shoved any of the Bruins’ players after scoring an overtime winner , Stan Jonathan would have fought not just Shutt , he would have attempted to beat Eddie Palchak , the Habs’ former trainer.
Mike Milbury would have jumped in and threw a few punches at Pierre Bouchard or Rick Chartraw. Don’t forget Terry O’ Reilly. The sole true Irish Bruin would have dove into the first row of the Forum and let everyone know that this particular incident was a pre – cursor to te following match. Blood and guts ? O’Reilly would have said ; ” You ain’t seen nothing yet !? ”
Those days are gone .
The powers that be have diluted our National game so much to appease the masses South of the Border , hockey fights – ‘ honorable ‘ hockey fights have gone the way of Dave Schultz. The rules , especially the instigator one , have watered down the sport to allow head-shots and fierce stick work as the only outlet for a player’s intensity. Stand up for yourself and at the same time defend the honor of your team ? A game misconduct or maybe two for a small three minute fight.
That is not hockey.
The NHL head office is taking a lot of heat these days for the amount of concussions being placed on their players. Remove the instigator penalty and most of the NHL problems will be gone. The only one that will remain is the lack of bodies in places such as Pheonix and Columbus among others. If having ‘ goons ‘ around once more to protect the likes of Crosby keeps fans away in certain NHL cities , who cares ? The fans aren’t exactly waiting around the block for tickets in those same markets right now.
The NHL has done a formidable job of turning five goal a season scorers into twenty some odd ones by allowing players to stand in the slot unharmed. Raymond Bourque would be in the penalty box over thirty – five minutes a game if the All – Star defenceman was playing today. Beat someone practically senseless if they entered into the slot in the eighties and nineties ? An election into the Hall of Fame is granted. Do it today ? Two minutes in the box – over and over until they stop. Stand in the corner and when you are nice – come back and play. These are not children Gary Bettman. These are not Basketball players that trash – talk their way into Tattoo parlors then go home and beat their wives or buy guns and shoot their way into night clubs. These are men that play a man’s game.
A game that is settled between men on the ice. Not by referees who have the gall , yes the gall – to send someone to the penalty box for ‘ brushing ‘ their opponent delicately with a two – handed slash. Hockey – for the most part is played by Canadians and Europeans . Men that become that way for braving frigid temperatures the majority of the year. Unlike a boy coming of age in Carolina , it will take more than a slash across an arm or leg to make a true hockey player cry. These are boys that hack wood at – 30 degree temperature. If the boys in today’s game have not actually braved the brittle cold to do so – bet your bottom dollar that their Dads or Granddads did just that and their children were not let off easy.
Hockey is not a game to be played with scantily – clad women cheering in the stands. It is not a game that should produce a Sidney Crosby . It is a game that should produce Maurice Richards and Gordie Howes. Two of the toughest S. O . B ‘s that skated. Gordie Howe would eat Crosby and for that matter – Wayne Gretzky for breakfast. Maurice Richard ? Skate away quickly Selanne – very quickly….
The Philadelphia Flyers have a great opportunity to win the Cup this season. One of the reasons being is that Paul Holmgren is a hockey player that played with men. He knows how the game should be played. Rough and tough with a hint of dirtiness. He has his charges playing that way and although it may have taken him a while – he has figured the loopholes enough to have his team play as men in a league that is annually sending players to the Battle of the Blades a figure skating contest.
A Stanley Cup in the City of Brotherly Love would be nice . As long as it is a little dirty…
Right Bobby Clarke ?