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Saturday, May 4, 2013

An Ice Life - Officially Bunk

Wild on Sports
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An Ice Life - Officially Bunk
By Wild on Sports NHL Analyst Brian Peirce

This report is taken from the TSN.CA website and is credited to their staff:

Ottawa Senators defenceman Eric Gryba has been suspended two games by the National Hockey League for his hit on Montreal Canadiens forward Lars Eller during Game 1 on Thursday.

Gryba caught Eller with a crunching hit at the blue line as the Canadiens forward was receiving a pass from defenceman Raphael Diaz.

Eller went airborne and slammed face-first down to the ice, leaving him bleeding profusely as trainers tended to him.

He left the ice on a stretcher and was taken to hospital with a concussion, facial fractures and dental fractures. He was expected to spend the night at the hospital, pending further observation.

Now if you haven’t seen it I am sure you can find it with a search, it was brutal. I decided to bring this up because I am in agreement with everyone else outside French Canada that this was a totally legal hit. Yet, someone in the NHL disagreed for some reason and many speculate that this has something to do with the also legal hit that Chara put on Max Pacioretty that got no suspension. I don’t single out the fans in Montreal as any different. I will be the first to note that there is some form of homer-ism for every single fan in every part of the world. Even the most diplomatic and highest profile hockey folks will find it hard to not find things more in line with the fan view. Montreal fans have a right to be mad about both hits, but it does not change that both were damage done by physics and not dirty hits.

I will say both were not totally clean, but both are 100% within the rules and clean to the extent that I do not for one second think at the speed of the game there was any design to hurt the opposing team. Yet, there is talk that there would be rioting if there was no suspension on one of the most clean hits I have ever seen. The feet were down the hips and shoulders made contact and the entire body hit Eller before his head whipped into what appears was Gryba’s back. He clearly lost his lucidity for a second and smashed his face hard into the ice, causing the most damage.

I write about this because that Montreal fans have the right to be pissed but it shouldn’t have happened as such. I can think of a dozen instances where clear mistakes in officiating or suspending have occurred in every way shape and form that caused much greater affect than the Montreal calls. I wish it wasn’t so hard to think of these instances, and I wish I couldn’t think of two instances of it in one series in this playoff round!

Here comes some more of my homer-ism. Please know that I am the type that will call out my own team and players honestly. I actually have been kicked off a hockey team for telling a ref the truth about a play that cost my team a goal. I am going to complain now about two non-calls against the Ducks against the Red Wings.

The first happened last night and nearly cost Detroit the hockey game and could have put them into a 0-2 hole. It was the most absurd no call I have ever seen and I only have seen it once because they haven’t shown it again anywhere and I can only assume that is because the league doesn’t want it under the microscope. I am pretty sure (my memory gets bad late at night when I am tired and angry) it was Corry Perry who late in a power play in the third period while down 4-2 who lost his stick. When losing that stick with about 16 seconds left in the power play went to the corner after a puck that Patrick Eaves was also going after. If he had his stick, it would have been his puck for sure but he didn’t have his stick.

He got to the puck to try to keep the play alive he grabbed Eaves stick with both of his free hands, and lifted the pick up preventing him from playing the puck. He lifted the stick so high up that the blade went above his head and Eaves fighting back almost got leveraged onto his backside as Perry kicked the puck leading to a goal seconds after the power play was over. We found out then that Perry is stronger than Eaves and the officials were not interested in calling a clear penalty at that moment for whatever reason. If they called the penalty the face-off would have been on the other side of the ice and when the goal was scored the Ducks would have been two seconds into being short handed, or more correctly, there would have been no goal scored. I strongly believe they didn’t call the penalty because the league prefers to give the team that is down a chance to get back in it for fear of bad ratings and looking to decide games.

The momentum gained and the way the Red Wings play with a lead made me immediately call that they would be playing in overtime. I think it is a fluke they didn’t lose the game and the series based solely on one really awful call. In fact, I have seen the Wings lose the Cup based upon a really bad call made based on making calls differently based on the climate of the series and game. I won’t get into that because it is in the past, I just want things to change and some consistency out of the system.

The other instance that happened in this series was way worse than the incidental injury to Eller in terms of negligence by the player. Again, there were little replays outside of the broadcast. A Ducks player, again I believe it was Perry, who went hard to the net and needed to side step Howard to avoid a big wreck. However, when he jumped to the side he stuck his shin out and clotheslined Jimmy in his head and dangerously put a blade close to the neck of the Wings goaltender. It is hard to say he did it on purpose, but I believe he did based on his body language. They called a penalty and the Wings didn’t capitalize, I think that there should have been a public announcement of a Shanahan investigation at least towards suspension. He might not have deserved a suspension but he needed to at least be threatened with one for a sense of consistency. I just bring this up because I fail to see why there is a suspended Senator while there is a free Duck. I feel either star power, city appeasing, or league posturing following an injury is the difference. I just would HATE to think that Howard needs to be injured for that suspension to happen as that would be backwards thinking.

One last thing out of anger as it drives me crazy that a player can grab another by the head and slam them into the glass and get less penalty than a legal hit. It drives me crazy certain players get called or not on reputation. It drives me crazy a player can invent new rules as they feel fit or get called on a different set of rules. I cannot stand that refs make calls based on the numbers on the center ice board. Someone has to call them out on it with regards to the exact instances I have seen. It drives me so angry that what I love most in the world lets me down. I am not watching any hockey tonight out of protest. I already have stopped buying tickets, including the Big House game, which I got a refund for after the lockout. As long as Bettman is in charge I assume nothing will change and this is getting me awfully close to giving up on the sport all together.

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