Thursday, May 20, 2010

So This Is How You Give Somebody the Shaft In Hockey

The game: Montreal vs. Philadelphia.

Why I chose it: Because I knew Montreal could do what they did.

Final score: Montreal 5, Flyers 1.

Across the pond: Russia took out Canada in some serious post-Olympic redemption at the World Championships. Germany took out Switzerland. So no more updates on Nino, my fellow Winterhawks fans. But have no fear...the NHL draft gets closer with each day and the NHL Network is running features on the prospects. So tune in Portlanders, our hometown heroes could show up on national TV any day now.

Perhaps it was because Team Canada's front office was busy filing formal complaints about this: In the mother of all PR "Don'ts" the director of communications for the IIHF ripped NHL athletes who chose not to compete for their countries at the World Championships. More to the point, he ripped Sidney Crosby. Friends, I have a master's degree in strategic communication and let me just say, nowhere in our profession, in any textbook, or in any class is such a classless, useless and tactless move deemed acceptable. I say match penalty and automatic game misconduct for Class A tiddlywinks who disgrace themselves, the sport and our profession. Period. No exceptions.

And let's face it, who are any of us to judge? If I went to the Stanley Cup finals two years running, recovered from an injury in Game 7 last summer, won the Stanley Cup, spent the summer fulfilling the obligations that go with it, carried the Olympic torch, led my country to a gold medal in the Olympics, only to watch it all come crashing down in a humiliating, crushing playoff semi-final defeat, all in less than a year...I would directly thereafter curl up in the fetal position in my apartment, with my Star Wars Attack of the Clones DVD on repeat, feeding every now and again out of a bag of Cheetos and occassionally turning the sound off when the really bad romantic dialogue comes on, and hoping that someone would break in and either deliver some real food or put me out of my misery.

I was going to boycott the IIHF rules in response, but since I'm already knee deep in the book:

The Rule: Section 5, Penalties. Rule 521, Butt-ending. There are three basic levels to all the physical fouls: attempting to commit the foul, actually committing the foul and causing injury. The penalty increases with each level. They also come complete with various versions of "in the opinion of the Referee," "in the judgment of the Referee" or "at the discretion of the Referee." So in other words, the rules are only as good as the men who enforce them. That is true in this case.

521.a. A player who attempts to butt-end an opponent shall be assessed a double minor and a misconduct penalty.

521.b. A player who butt-ends an opponent shall be assessed, at the discretion of the Referee, major penalty + automatic game misconduct or a match penalty.

521.c. A player who injures his opponent by a butt-ending shall be assessed a match penalty.

Butt-ending, by the way, is when a player uses the shaft of the stick above the upper hand to check an opposing player.

Morals of the story:

The game: I want to know exactly how you attempt to do this, but don't end up actually doing so. Seems like you'd end up either hitting the glass with your stick, or yourself. It's a good thing I can barely stand up on skates because I'd totally fall into the "attempt" category and end up hitting myself in the head. I'd be a new league record setter: most penalty minutes for attempted checks that resulted in injury to my own person.

Life: Ok, I admit is the list of people I would like to butt-end without penalty:

-- whiners who don't know how they're going to function because their cell phone lost service or ran out of power and their charger is at home and they have 15 phone calls to make on the 10 minute bus ride home, where they can in fact make said phone calls in private where others don't have to listen to just means you have to wait. Oh, the horror.

-- people who claim the US way is the best way when in fact they have never left the country. I love my country, but there a few things I would personally change in our cultural lifestyle...such as the French tradition of a two hour lunch (with wine, so I could go back to work and actually tolerate it), the German custom of 100 sick days a year, and the complete shutdown of business for a two week vacation in August, as they do in Italy. Hey, when in Rome...

-- and of course, anyone who takes up time, space and any shred of my personal patience ordering an extra hot, Vanilla sugar-free, no foam, half-decaf Americano with no whip in Starbucks or any other coffee establishment. I would place an order like that, but I'd forget what the hell I asked for about midway in. Order the whip, do the caffeine, go for the sugar. If I'm standing in line next to you, it will save your life.

Next up: Section 5, Penalties. Rule 522, Charging.

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