Sports ‘n’ Things: NHL dirty play getting out of hand

"So far this post-season, their intentions in that regard are murky, to say the least.

Congratulations are in order for the Edmonton Oil Kings – for being astute enough to realize they needed help from the Home of Champions in order to finally get back into the Memorial Cup winners circle after a 48-year wait.

Back in 66, the Oil Kings called upon the services of semi-iconic Trailite Don Mcleod, and he turned back the Bobby Orr – led Oshawa Generals in six games, the last a 40-plus save game that Edmonton won, 2-1.

This season’s Oil Kings, resurrected for the third time since falling from their once-dominant perch almost four decades ago,  got eight goals and 11 points from local boy Luke Bertolucci, who moved on from a one-year stint with the Smoke Eaters to work his way into a regular spot in the lineup in Edmonton (he played in all 26 playoff games and provided a little spark at both ends of the ice, including some important even pivotal goals along the way) and just enjoyed a city parade with the cup in tow – along with his teammates, of course.

Very cool for Luke, and for all those around here who were pulling for him.

• The NHL, especially this playoff season’s version, needs to do a lot of work on preventing violence and chippiness from getting out of hand.

I keep hearing people say the Rangers Chris Kreider is not a dirty player, and the NHL seems to mostly agree – but lets look at the facts.

Kreider came back from injury when the Rangers were trailing the Penguins, 3-1, in the conference semi-finals. He promptly crashed, skates first, into Pittsburgh goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, and concussed him – New York went on to win three straight games and the series.

His next trick, in Game 1 against Montreal, was to crash skates first into Hab goalie Carey Price, (the New York Time sports page estimated the impact at 22 mph) and Price was knocked out of the series with a knee injury. New York went on to take a 3-1 lead in that series. The Rangers have an underestimated, talented team, but one wonders if they would be where they are without those (Kreider) events.

Kreider topped that display off in game five with a slew foot, among the most dangerous of hockey plays because it tends to make the assaulted player fall backwards, on a Montreal forward. But, still there are many who resolutely insist he isn’t either a dirty or dangerous player.

Oh well, at least he was penalized for the slew foot.

With that, and among other things the current penchant for respected competitors  (Lucic, Crosby)  for spearing opponents in bottom of the groin,  one of the dirtiest things a player can do, one would think the NHL has some explaining to do, and some changes to make.

Either the league wants to curb injuries or it doesn’t. So far this post-season, their intentions in that regard are murky, to say the least.

One wonders, if the Rangers advance to the Cup finals, how the teammates and defenders of Johnathan Quick or Corey Crawford will deal with the consistent danger of Kreider, and if they take the old-fashioned route of direct confrontation, how the NHL will deal with the players pre-emptively defending their netminders from that danger?

I guess we stay tuned and watch it play out. This playoff year has provided a lot of excitement, but it is unlikely necessary for quite the level of violence/dirty play we have sometimes seen to make it so.





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