1. 4.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Dear NHL, Let Hockey Happen

Dear NHL,

We fans appreciate messages.

Daniel Carcillo (PHI) gets Nasty and gets a 1-Game suspension. Butt-end of the stick to the head of the opposing player on a faceoff with 6 seconds left. Okay, we get it...kind of. Seems to me, it should have been a 2 minute minor called ON THE ICE and the issue is settled. But no call was made and the 'powers-that-be' review and suspend the fellow for a game.

The message sent by the NHL: We already sent a message to the coaches and the GMs; NO MESSAGES when the game is already decided.

Colin Campbell clarifies as such,
"With six seconds left, you have a player who never kills penalties, a player who never takes faceoffs, coming out on a five-on-three (manpower disadvantage) and doing what he did – a repeat offender. So there are a number of criteria there that satisfy doing what we had to do ... I don't want to filter everything out of the game. But we want to take the dumb stuff out of the game."
Well, I also watched Game 1 of Montreal at Boston and there was some general nastiness and ill-will exhibited at the conclusion of this game as well. I believe it was the Canadiens sending a message to the Bruins that Game 2 will be an answer to Game 1.

The pundits and hockey-talkers wondered, "will the NHL have something to say about this? After all, Carcillo received a one-game suspension for 'message-sending' and certainly this game was already decided when Kessel scored the empty-netter"...and the two teams met to exchange...pleasantries...? No, my friends, it's called a message. (Are you listening?)

Disciplinarian Colin Campbell had this to say about the conclusion of the Montreal@Boston Game 1:
"People take things out of different incidents last night (and say:) 'Oh boy! Same thing (as Philadelphia-Pittsburgh)! How many games are you going to suspend him?' You've got to let the games unfold. You've got to let hockey be hockey, playoffs be playoffs. You've got to let the energy flow. And then, when they cross that line, you do what you have to do."
So, Friday night, I watch Game 2 of St. Louis@Vancouver and see the messages at the conclusion...tussles....a near-fight with near-punches thrown and a sweaty bunch of anger, and I think, "Dang, (it's a family-friendly blog) I frakkin love hockey!...and I LOVE THE MESSAGE!"

Dear NHL,

We watch, we love and we listen.

At the conclusion of Game 2 between St. Louis (in the playoffs a year or two early!) and Vancouver, we see men who have concluded 82 regular season games and have earned the right to play for the Cup. They begin the dance - the battle.

And if I am a Blues fan, I WANT my team to send a message in BC: "We are not done and we'll see you when you come to OUR HOUSE."

If I am a Canucks fan, I WANT my team to answer the message sent by the Blues this way: "Message received, Blues-Boyes...now we bring it to the Gateway Arch!"

And so it goes.

Dear NHL,

We fans live for this.

It's hope for the team down 2-0 in a series. It's vim and vigor and vitality for our team UP in a series. Bring it.

Cheap shots are cheap shots. Making the boy sit - 2 minutes will suffice. But sending the message that the message will not be tolerated...?

The fans LOVE messages. It's how we communicate. Broadcasters...Email...Twitter...Message Sent, Message Received. Message in a bottle?

Not with NHL hockey. Breakneck speed, baby. You can't take the toughness out of hockey. And we, the fans of the Great Game don't want you to.

Now...back to Campbell's statements. In the general spirit of things, the Frozen Pill agrees. Carcillo was sent out onto the ice in a situation where he would normally not be utilized. For Campbell to note this as a factor when discussing the decision handed down by the league (in contrast to what happened at the end of MTL@BOS) is actually well- reasoned.

If he reverses course and lays suspensions after Friday night's tilt between the Blues and Canucks, we should demand some dang (PG-13, folks!) good explanations.

There should be nothing of the sort. Just let the players play, let the zebras do their job on the ice and, to quote The Man, '...let the games unfold.'

And let the players settle this in Game 3. The toughness will always exist with hockey.

And I believe Campbell is square and on the right track with his comments.

Of note: By issuing a suspension to Carcillo in the opening night of Game 1, the league sent a message that it's message to the GMs and coaches about 'sending a message' not being tolerated is, in fact, a consistent message.

(Reread the sentence above if necessary...it does work)

But faith in Campbell is warranted, although we fans may be wondering what the future of hockey 'toughness' looks like, when one considers his further statements to these matters while discussing Martin Havlat's game-winning goal in Chicago Thursday night:
"Things in hockey or in life never happen in slow motion or in replays. They happen live ... When the foot-in-the-crease rule was taken out – one of the worst rules in hockey – it was taken out with a couple of factors in mind: One was that there are two referees now and one is always around the net. He gets a good look at what's happening and he makes a judgment. Quickly. He's there to protect the goalie in the blue, but also to let hockey happen."
(Note to Sabres' fans: Brett Hull just muttered, 'Amen'.)

For now, one must conclude the game is in good hands. Presumably, the best refs and linesmen have been brought to the task of calling the games between this NHL season's best teams and players. If the NHL trusts them to do their job, let's let them all do the job - coaches, players and officials, alike. And after the conclusion of Friday's game between the Canucks and Blues, I trust we, the fans of this Great Game, are in for one glorious Stanley Cup race.

Consider the message received.

Dear NHL,


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