Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Over the Playoffs and Through the Finals, Into the Boards We Go

The games: Chicago vs. San Jose (NHL Finals) and Moncton vs. Windsor (Memorial Cup Round Robin).

Why I chose them: Because I want to see what all the Taylor Hall fuss is about. In the two minutes I've watched so far, I get it. Because I'm all in for Chicago to take the Cup this year. It's the NHL and future of the NHL on one night...what's not to like?

And there's always next year: It's sad and exciting at the same time to think of where the Winterhawks are this year (at home, in Germany at the Worlds or off-season traning), but exciting to think that next year, they could be playing for the Cup. It's there. They can do it. You can see it, you can feel it and you know it. The question is...do they?

Here's my advice to them, which I can offer because I've met a few of them: They are super nice, which is good off the ice and shouldn't be changed. But here's the deal: These Windsor Spitfires are ruthless. They look like they are already playing in the NHL and they are not screwing around. They play like they will take your head off and decorate their car with it if that's what it takes to win this thing. Watch and learn, boys. Be nice all you want when you are signing autographs in Fred Meyer. But leave it at the door when you get to the rink. Trust me. It's working so far for Taylor Hall and Cam Fowler and their teammates.

Super cool sportsmanship moment of the week: After losing to Windsor and with it their chance to move on in the Memorial Cup playoffs, the Moncton Wildcats skated around the rink with a banner that thanked the Brandon fans for supporting them during the tournament. Like I said... ruthless on the ice, totally cool and sportsmanlike off of it. That's the way to get it done.

And speaking of the Winterhawks' off-season activity: Dude, what's up with Switzerland scratching Nino for yesterday's World Championship game? So not fair. I was expecting to hear about him scoring a goal any game now. Not to worry...he got on the team and he's there and he's in it. And he's 17. Not too shabby for a teenager who less than a year ago was struggling with English and hadn't learned to drive.

Now, on with one of my favorite rules: Section 5, Penalties. Section: Fouls Against Players. Rule 520, Boarding.

520.a: A player who bodychecks, elbows, charges or trips an opponent in such a manner that it causes the opponent to be thrown violently in the boards, shall be assessed, at the discretion of the Referee:

-- Minor penalty or
-- Major penalty and automatic game misconduct or
-- Match penalty

520.b A player who injures his opponent as a result of boarding shall be assessed, at the discretion of the Referee, a:

-- Major penalty and automatic game misconduct or
-- Match penalty

In the NHL Rulebook, there is of course far less mercy. That edition includes a mention that the Referee may consider whether or not the player being boarded was in a vulnerable position and knew it. Which may also explain this caveat in the IIHF Rulebook: "Rolling" a opponent, who is the puck carrier, along the boards when he is endeavoring to go through an opening, is not boarding.

Morals of the story:

The game: Save for the "rolling" move, this is what it is. Either you boarded the guy with intent to harm or you didn't. I have yet to see a player who wasn't nailed so bad they weren't taken out of the game by this, at least for a few minutes. And in the case of Andy Sutton boarding Pascal Dupuis, it resulted in a few stitches and a swollen eye. And very nearly something far more serious. So, as much as I like fights because fights are just two guys telling it like is and going "do not fuck with me," I am not a fan of boarding. It's just plain cowardly and it's just plain stupid.

Life: On the other hand, there are more than a few people I'd like to board in life, such as:

-- Scary skinny models, trophy wives, actresses, girlfriend of rock stars and athletes, etc. who perpetuate an unrealistic and dangerous body ideal for all women and give in to an unrealistic male ideal of what women should be. Women are supposed to have hips, girls. We're supposed to have breasts and curves and muscle in our thighs and stomachs that poke out a little. If your boyfriend tells you to lose a few pounds and order a diet soda, unless a doctor has told you that you are medically overweight, get up from the table, throw the low calorie beverage in his face, walk to the bar, order a piece of chocolate cake and tell the bartender to add it to the boyfriend's tab. And when you're done with that, delete his cell phone number and order some ice cream to go with the cake. This sort of happened to me once...minus the cell phone. And for the record, I'm 5'9" tall and I weigh 135. The maximum recommended BMI for my height is 160 pounds.

-- People with little or no work ethics, or no ethics at all. I will never -- nor do I want to -- understand people who think it's ok to coast through life while others do their work for them, and who really don't get any of life on them. And worse, the ones who complain about what life didn't give them or who bother with petty complaints like telling the clerk to re-do their sandwich because he didn't put the mustard on the same side as the pastrami. Get over it and be glad you have a job to pay for the sandwich and that you are in fact, not starving to death in the Sahara in August.

Next up: Section 5, Penalties. Rule 521, Butt-Ending and Rule 522, Charging.

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