Happy Greatest-Day-in-the-World-Ever, or as the Irish would call it, St. Patrick’s Day! An annual tradition across the globe, the great city of Montreal, more times than not, will indubitably pull out all the stops this weekend. Irishmen (and women), Montreal citizens and local drunks will freely stumble through downtown Montreal this weekend chanting, dancing and a few other –ing’s not suitable for this post. It has been announced that the population will double in drunks-per-capita every hour until Sunday Night, so you may want to leave your car at home.
In keeping up with St. Patty’s Day tradition in Montreal; there is no better way to kick-off the festivities than with a hockey game tonight at the Bell Centre. Hopefully the Montreal faithful will not be coerced into the re-enactment of the ‘Richard Riot’, it’s been 56 years since then NHL President, Clarence Campbell (no relation to the current NHL VP of Operations, Colin Campbell) arrogantly attended the Montreal/Detroit game at the Forum following the Maurice Richard season and playoff ending suspension. Campbell’s presence sparked anger and outrage at the Forum. A riot ensued an the rest was as they say, ‘history’.
So get your green brew ready, put away that shillelagh for now and let’s get busy.
Habs vs. Lightning
Not your typical St. Patrick’s Day hockey match-up, but alas, a hockey match-up nonetheless. The Lightning, 5th place in the Eastern Conference with 87 points are looking to avenge their 4-2 loss to the Canadiens two weeks ago. The Habs, holding onto 6th place in the Conference with 83 points are looking to close the gap with the Lightning with a win tonight.
The Habs, coming off a disastrous 4-2 loss at the hands of the Washington Capitals Tuesday are looking to get back into the win column. Montreal certainly gave goaltender Carey Price a workout, facing 41 shots against the Caps while surrendering four goals. Tomas Plekanec and Jeff Halpern were lost due to lower-body injuries. Both are listed as day-to-day. With the rash of injuries plaguing the Habs, the team has summoned both Nigel Dawes and Aaron Palushaj from the Hamilton Bulldogs, both are currently practicing with the Habs.
Joining Plekanec and Halpern with boo-boo’s and illnesses include: Hal Gill (sick/flu like symptoms) Max Pacioretty (fractured vertebrae/concussion), Brent Sopel (broken hand/arm), Mathieu Darche (groin) Markov, Gorges, Spacek (lower-body) and the list goes on.
Tonight will mark the 1300th career NHL game for Montreal Canadiens defenceman, Roman Hamrlik. Hamr’ is second behind fellow Czech countryman, Bobby Holik (1314 NHL games), for most NHL games played by a Czech-Republican and joins 48 other esteemed players in that category. To make the evening apropos, Hamr’s will face the team that selected him 1st overall in the 1992 NHL entry draft
The Habs PP could seriously use a shot of green beer; in the last three games the Habs have gone 0-for-8 on the man advantage but managed two power play goals against the Lightning in their last meeting.
For the Lightning, fellow Quebecois and Tampa captain, Vincent Lecavalier, is looking to score in his third straight game. The Ile-Bizard native has enjoyed playing against his former childhood team. In 46 career regular season games, Lecavalier has scored 15 goals and added 22 assists.
This is the fourth and final meeting between these two teams this season with the Lightning holding the edge with two wins and only one loss. Carey Price and Dwayne Roloson will likely start for their respective teams. Start time is 7:30 PM
Follow me on Twitter @JohnnyBertolo and once again, Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Be safe folks.
I don’t get it; I simply do not get it. I guess if we live in a society where people like OJ Simpson can escape jail after ALLEGEDLY killing both his wife and her love interest, then anything’s possible, right? You may or may not be thinking that my last comparison was a little too over the top, tell that to the guy who’s lying in a bed with a neck brace in a Montreal hospital, searching for justice.
Max Pacioretty is alive, that’s all that matters.
It was horrific enough to see his motionless body laid out on the Bell Centre ice, or finding out that his parents were both in attendance Tuesday night to witness this travesty. But the NHL’s refusal to acknowledge the seriousness and the long-term trauma that could face Pacioretty is the greatest crime of all.
Max Pacioretty spoke out last night and didn’t hold back any punches. He told TSN’s Bob McKenzie,
“I am upset and disgusted that the league didn’t think enough of (the hit) to suspend him…I’m not mad for myself, I’m mad because if other players see a hit like that and think it’s okay, they won’t be suspended, then other players will get hurt like I got hurt.”
“It’s been an emotional day. I saw the video for the first time this morning. You see the hit, I’ve got a fractured vertebrae, I’m in hospital and I thought the league would do something, a little something.”
“I’m not talking a big number, I don’t know, one game, two games, three games…whatever, but something to show that it’s not right.”
The brain tanks at the NHL did it again. NHL VP of Operations, Head Disciplinarian and Hockey Dad to his son Gregory (who plays for the, wait for it, the Boston Bruins) was exempt from the hearing due to conflict of interest. So they get his minion, Mike Murphy, another VP of whatever, to step in and make the ruling.
After Campbell, Chara, Chiarelli made Murphy their ‘Lucky Pierre’, he finally renders a decision:
“After a thorough review of the video I can find no basis to impose supplemental discipline. This hit resulted from a play that evolved and then happened very quickly… with both players skating in the same direction and with Chara attempting to angle his opponent into the boards…I could not find any evidence to suggest that, beyond this being a correct call for interference, that Chara targeted the head of his opponent, left his feet or delivered the check in any other manner that could be deemed to be dangerous….This was a hockey play that resulted in an injury because of the player colliding with the stanchion and then the ice surface. In reviewing this play, I also took into consideration that Chara has not been involved in a supplemental discipline incident during his 13-year NHL career.”
So, if I understand the NHL correctly, you can put someone’s life at risk as long as you perform a proper hockey move without leaving your feet? So unless someone gets proactive, an NHL player will eventually die, it’s just a matter of time. The NFL got proactive, changed the rules DURING the season and handed out fines like Halloween candy. Why you ask, because the NFL wants to protect its investment. The young men, who make the catches, score the touchdowns and run 40 yards less than four-and-a-half seconds are what makes the league money. The NFL wanted to protect its players while attempting to curb the scores of concussions, head and neck related injuries. The NFL took a stand, why couldn’t the NHL?
Following the NHL brass’ bukkake-fest all over its players and fans, the twitter-verse exploded. Many fans took to social media and un-followed the @NHL on Twitter and dropped the NHL fan page on facebook. Fans had suggested boycotting the next Montreal Canadiens’ next home game to protest the league’s ruling and send a clear message…not likely. Most fans have shelled out some serious coin for this game; it’s simply not feasible. One of my blog colleagues suggested that each of the 21, 273 fans in attendance wears paper bags with the #67 written on it for the next game. This gesture would show solidarity and would simultaneously send a crystal clear message to the league that its prime market, its cash cow, is not pleased. Do not bite the hand that feeds NHL. Strength in numbers, folks. Strength in numbers.
Air Canada announced that they will review their current advertisement agreement with the NHL following the incident, taking a stand that the NHL refused to take. At the request of Montreal prosecutor, Louis Dionne, Montreal police will conduct a criminal investigation into the incident, a move supported by many Montrealers.
It’s been over 36 hours since Tuesday’s ugly incident and the Montreal Canadiens, its fans and especially the Pacioretty family have been victimized once more.
Frankly, I’m getting sick and tired of the league apologists (fans and media folk alike) saying that this was an ‘unfortunate accident’ and there’s a thin line between ‘hurting someone’ and ‘injuring someone’ and ‘you can’t read Chara’s mind so we’ll never know the truth’…BULLSHIT. Complete utter bullshit. You don’t need to be a mind reader to know Chara was gunning after him. How many former Norris Trophy winners do you know who have been in the league for over a decade simply allow a rookie to burn past him on the outside at centre ice? Two things comes to mind in a situation like this: This kid is really, really, really, good, or, Chara’s getting really, really, really old. Both thoughts fully support Chara trying to remove Pacioretty from the play. But with the history between these two players, the video evidence from three past games, the seething hatred between these two teams, a loud-mouth play-by-play analyst from NESN foreshadowing an attack on MaxPac two months prior to the incident and hours upon hours of mp3 recordings from Boston Bruins players seeking revenge on Pacioretty; there is enough evidence here to suggest that Chara wanted Pacioretty out.
I’m not saying Chara purposely intended to fracture Pacioretty’s vertebrae and put his career in jeopardy, but he did and thus should be held accountable. To make matters worse, if Chara was indeed remorseful, what was the big rush to abscond to the back of the Bruins bus and refusal to initially speak to the media following his game-misconduct?
The culture and the vendetta-like mentality needs to change. Following Tuesday’s incident, Montreal Canadiens forward Ryan White told the Globe and Mail that if the roles were reversed, he would certainly take the opportunity to smash Chara or any other Bruin into the partition of given the opportunity.
It’s images like Tuesday, the myriad of concussions, sound bytes like White’s that truly indicate there is a fundamental disconnect between the actual game and respect for your fellow competitor. Someone’s going to die and the blood will be on the hands of those who were too scared, too intimidated and too stupid to do anything to change it.
This is a sad time to be a hockey fan.
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