What in the name of Ogie Ogilthorpe has gotten into the NHL?
Another day, another brain rattled, another body rendered limp by a head shot.
And if that wasn’t enough, now we hear coaches, players and, yes, the media beating the drums of vengeance.
Did we learn nothing from the Todd Bertuzzi incident?
Parents, it might be time to start shielding the eyes and covering the ears of that testosterone-fuelled, hockey-playing son of yours. Because what’s happening in the NHL right now is not the kind of thing you want burned into an impressionable brain.
The latest incident — actually, considering there were games played Thursday night, it might not be the latest anymore — took place in Anaheim Wednesday.
The Ducks’ James Wisniewski knocked Chicago’s Brent Seabrook out of the game, maybe briefly out of consciousness, with a vicious high hit.
Seabrook immediately went limp before crumpling to the ice.
The incident comes on the heels of the highly publicized hit by Washington’s Alexander Ovechkin on Chicago’s Brian Campbell.
That hit, not nearly as offensive as Wisniewski’s, followed the blindside job by Pittsburgh’s Matt Cooke on Boston’s Marc Savard.
Yes, there’s a trend here, and it’s black-eye ugly.
The verbal bile from around the hockey world is even more troubling.
Start with the front page of Thursday’s Boston Herald, which featured a photo of Cooke and the words: “WANTED... at least one Bruin willing to teach this bum a lesson.”
The Bruins last night were hosting the Pens for the first time since the Cooke hit, a game that attracted NHL disciplinarian Colin Campbell and veteran refs Bill McCreary and Stephen Walkom, airlifted in to keep a lid on things.
It also attracted a swarm of reporters, most pestering the Bruins at the morning skate with questions of revenge. What a proud day for the industry.
Vying for the neanderthal quote of the week was Boston coach Claude Julien, who lamented the loss of the good old days of vigilante justice.
“Unfortunately, the rules aren’t the same as in 1970,” Julien said. “There was bench-clearing brawls, which you don’t see anymore. There’s lots of other things going on. There’s a lawsuit going on right now with that Vancouver incident. It’s a very fine line, very touchy...”
Yeah, it’s too bad you can’t pull a Bertuzzi and get away with it anymore.
The verbiage in the wake of the Wisniewski hit on Seabrook has been equally disdainful, starting with Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle’s assessment of Wisniewski’s play.
“He was probably the first star in our minds, as far as involvement in the game,” Carlyle told reporters.
Here in Winnipeg, Manitoba Moose boss Scott Arniel was singing from the same twisted song book as his old friend, praising Wisniewski for taking action after Seabrook’s hit on Anaheim’s Corey Perry.
“To me that’s the way things used to be done,” Arniel told reporters. “Eye for an eye, and you got after people right away.”
Now, Arniel went on to say Wisniewski’s hit was wrong. But it was necessary, he said. Players must police the game, first.
He made another comment that was chilling in its assessment of recent head shots.
“Players are trying to get their last shots in before the rules change.”
Maybe they’re finally changing. Wisniewski got a swift eight-game suspension.
Still, the NHL has been shamefully slow in taking this runaway bull by the horns. Or, better yet, castrating it.
You know all those good feelings generated by the Olympics?
They’ve been undone in three short weeks.
Never mind sportsmanship and the Olympic spirit, little Johnny.
This is how you make it to the big leagues.