The storyline is being hijacked for the NHL.
Instead of talking about exciting series leading to strong increases in the ratings for NBC and the NBC Sports Network, the story is about a continuing string of brutal, vicious hits making hockey out to be the sport of thugs.
Another one occurred in the Chicago-Phoenix series last night. Watch how Phoenix’s Raffi Torres takes out Marian Hossa.
This is the NBC Sports Network call. I was watching the local telecast on Comcast Sports Net in Chicago. Pat Foley and Ed Olczyk were going crazy. Olczyk, who handles color for the Hawks along with his network duties, called for Torres, a repeat offender, to receive a 10-game suspension.
Amazingly, Torres didn’t even get a penalty for the hit which had Hossa being carried off the ice in a stretcher. Wonder what game they were watching.
All in all, it was another black mark for the NHL and commissioner Gary Bettman, who was at the game. Stu Hackel ripped into the league at SI.com.
After watching too much go too far during the last five days, I think it should be obvious to anyone who has any sense of proportion that the Stanley Cup playoffs are out of control. There have been head-rammings, sucker punches, maulings and ambushes, all of which is apart from the more commonplace vendettas, elbows, crosschecks, spearing, charging, knee-to-knee shots and line brawls that we’ve come to expect each spring.
This isn’t just hard hockey. It is, as one of the sport’s prominent personages called it during the first phone call I got on Monday morning, “a disgrace.”
I began watching the NHL 50 years ago and I can’t recall ever seeing anything like this, not even in the game’s darkest days of the mid-1970s. In more games than not, the play has degenerated into open warfare.
The NHL is ruining its chance to build some serious momentum during the playoffs. This twitter feed from a fan following the Hossa hit should get the league’s full attention.
I almost don’t even care about this game right now. That was one of the most sickening headshots I’ve ever seen in my life. NHL, NFL, MMA.