Bursting Olympic bubble

RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:43 AM ET

All the asinine dirty hits of late — it almost seems they’re coming on a nightly basis — is thankfully costing perpetrators in the wallet.

What they fail to understand is the cost to the other players out there.

All of them, not just those who suffer career-ending or shortening injuries.

Chicago’s Brian Campbell, the victim of Alexander Ovechkin’s cheap hit from behind, said it best.

“We come off the Olympics, which was great for hockey, and then in two weeks, you have the hit on (Marc) Savard and now this,” the Blackhawks defenceman said in the aftermath. “What parent in the States watching is going to want to put their kid in hockey? We have to do something to stop this.”

If that’s not enough, we’ve also witnessed Anaheim’s James Wisniewski run Brent Seabrook of Chicago and leave him a mess. Wisniewski received an eight-game suspension for that hit yesterday.

Plus, it’s a miracle the bizarre takedown by Tampa Bay’s Steve Downie of Pittsburgh star Sidney Crosby didn’t severely injure the Pens star — not even a sprained ankle when it looked like he could have a broken leg.

What these incidents cost is fans.

Fans at the turnstiles and fans who will watch on TV.

Sure, the blood-hungry types who’d be first in line to see Christians fed to the lions may start to follow the game, but more and more will turn away.

How can somebody who was enthralled by the game at the Olympics now watching these antics be convinced it’s the same sport?

The league has to start seriously clamping down on these players, most repeat offenders.

It’s necessary for the good of the game. It’s also paramount for the business aspect.

Enough players out there understand the economics of their league and put a great amount of emphasis on the financial aspect involved — to themselves and everyone else.

They have to consider more long-term impact.

Flaming C-notes

Flames fans must hope their players were paying attention to the Detroit powerplay in those couple of meetings. The Wings score because they’re moving, both themselves and the puck quickly and have a player like Tomas Holmstron always in front of the net. It’s not as difficult as the Flames make it look ... Even those of us who love a good NHL dustup — the kind which comes from competing, not a staged scrap — has to feel awful to hear Colorado defenceman Ryan Wilson was injured by those punches from Jamal Mayers Wednesday night. Wilson, who the Flames signed as a free-agent out of junior, didn’t return to action. Concussion? Very likely. He also suffered one in January ... Speaking of Holmstrom, you can’t help but wonder whether Flames goalie Miikka Kiprusoff would use some of his salary to sign the Detroit forward if it would get the pending unrestricted free agent in Calgary colours. Kiprusoff is pretty unflappable, but Holmstrom’s drives him crazy the way he parks himself in front of the goalie. That said, his skates sure creep in the crease a lot.

Hockey talky

Hands up those who watched Thursday night’s game between Boston and Pittsburgh to see what happened to Matt Cooke in light of his hit on Marc Savard. Or whether the Bruins targeted Sidney Crosby ... All is wonderful in Vancouver with the success of the Canucks, but it’s curious whether there are cracks in the armour from the potential spat between star goalie Roberto Luongo and head coach Alain Vignault. Loungo told a Vancouver paper a reason he’s been pulled so often this season — seven times and four in the last 13 starts — is the club’s more offensive style of play. “We are not as conservative as we used to be,” he said. For his part, Vigneault said the team is falling behind early too often and opening up because of it ... Poolies take note, Chicago may be turning to Dustin Byfuglien to play defence regularly with the injuries to Brian Campbell and Brent Seabrook ... The proud Canadian in me sure hopes Bauer would return to making its sticks in this country and not China after having to recall an estimated 100,000 hockey sticks because of potentially dangerous levels of lead. Sales of 13 brands of junior and youth sticks have been halted because of the paint used.

randy.sportak@sunmedia.ca


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