The past few days of Stanley Cup Playoff hockey has been, as always, some of the greatest and most intense hockey ever played. We have seen many, many extra periods of Over-Time played, as 60 minutes was just not enough to determine a winner. There have been netminders completely shutting down opposing teams and snipers notching goals from all over the ice. However, the past few days have also been filled with goons, big flightless goons.
Let me make my position clear, I do not mind a hockey fight, as long as its not just to shed blood, or because, as Sidney Crosby said, “…I hate everyone on [the Philadelphia Flyers].” For example if you are a Tampa Bay fan, you are most likely quite familiar with the 2004 Cup Finals scrap between Vincent Lecavalier and the Flames’ Jerome Iginla. Prior to the last few moments which finally led to Lecavalier dropping the gloves, Iginla was being a pest throughout the Final Series, and enough was enough.
There were no pee-wee hockey antics, of shooting gear across the ice when an opposing player tries to pick it up. no whining, no picking a fight and running away, etc etc etc. If you watched or read anything regarding Game 3 between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, then you know what I am referencing.
Of course, there are those who applaud this behavior, calling it “real hockey” or even “playoff hockey.” Those that are glad to see a bunch of goons pummeling one another instead of playing hockey. If I wanted to watch a cock-fight on Sunday, I would have found some old UFC programming to watch, not a Stanley Cup Playoff Game. As for the descriptor of it being “playoff hockey,” the goonery and bloody fists are not what make it playoff hockey, it is the drive and intensity of the players to leave everything but the kitchen sink on the ice in an effort to play a tough, physical, but highly skilled game. “Playoff hockey” is not about leaving bits of your knuckles in the face of your opponents, it’s about leaving them with a sense of defeat and panic when you win another game in the series.
The Penguins should be ashamed of themselves for their behavior on Sunday, and granted, they are not the only team out there who has had players committ senseless acts of violence and stupidity but they have been the only ones to really do it as a team. For that, they should be ashamed, because it’s the cup.
If Pittsburgh wants to make it to the Conference Semi-Finals, they need to up their level of play, their desire, their intensity, not their goonery. They need to look towards former Lightning player and Stanley Cup hero Ruslan Fedotenko, for how they should play in important games..
Why? Because It’s The Cup.
– Jim Courteau
Follow me on Twitter @BlackSHeepJim