Pre-Season Hitting All the Wrong Notes
YAY! The NHL is back!
Everyone is getting excited. There are new prospects to assess, new players to welcome and a fresh start for all 30 teams. Fans and franchises alike have plenty to enjoy about the Autumn.
Except the pre-season has served up a big fat helping of the ugly side of hockey.
We’ve already seen one player stretchered off, which ‘led to’ a 10 game suspension. Another 10 game suspension now looms; whilst one of the leagues top young talents nurses a broken jaw.
This is hardly the kind of thing we were all hoping for as the summer passed and the new season began to appear on the horizon.
Phoenix blue liner Rotislav Klesla was wheeled off after a hit by LA’s Jordan Nolan to give us all an ugly reminder that ‘hits to the head’ is still a thing, and an area the league continues to struggle to address, whilst Paul Bissonnette’s decision to ‘send a message’ on a subsequent play earned him a 10 game suspension.
David Clarkson looks set to join ‘Biz Nasty’ in the press box after leaving the bench to jump in to the Leafs line brawl with the Sabres; an ‘event’ which was painful for a number of reasons.
From Clarkson’s actions to John Scott’s ‘attack’ on Phil Kessel (complete with lumberjack chops from the latter), it will be a game long remember for all the wrong reasons. Even the much vaunted goalie fight has to be questioned – do Ryan Miller or Jonathan Bernier really want to start their season with a black eye? A busted knuckle? Or worse? Apparently they are willing to run that risk…
Meanwhile across Canada, Vancouver’s Zack Kassian faces suspension after his some what bizarre attempt to hit Sam Gagner resulted in the Oilers centre being sidelined indefinitely with a broken jaw.
Detroit’s Teemu Pulkkinen has also been suspended for four games following his hit on Chicago’s Michael Kostka.
The NHL was also ’embarrassed’ when rules relating to the removal of ones helmet in a fight came unstuck as Krys Barch and Brett Gallant exposed a loop hole by removing each others helmets before a ruck. Another ‘story’ the league could do without during a fight filled pre-season.
Throw on top of that the unpopular ‘jersey tuck’ ruling the NHL is seeking to enforce and it’s been a pretty messy pre-cursor to the new regular season.
For many, the start of the new season is ‘the most wonderful time of the year’. And it is in so many ways.
We could just do without this ridiculous bullshit and attempted ‘message sending’.