You all remember those times, the quite often boring, clutching, hooking, grabbing, holding, slashing, tripping and cross-checking game of hockey that came to prominence in the mid '90's.
The same type of game that was a primary reason that the greatest hockey player (notice I didn't say "scorer" Gretzky fans, don't start whining just yet) in NHL history, Mario Lemieux, hung up his skates (the 1st time anyway) at the early age of 31. Lemieux famously referred to the NHL during that time as a "garbage league".
So when the NHL and it's players finally came back after it's yearlong absence in '05, the league took the opportunity to tweak many of it's rules, such as eliminating the redline and allowing the tag-up offsides.
But more imporantly, both the players and the league agreed that they would finally start enforcing the rules concerning hooking, holding, and the like.
But after a season and a half, and this is not only me opining on it, I've heard it on several different media outlets, but the NHL is slowly but surely going back to it's old ways.
You do get your officiating crews that call a tight game from time to time that call the penalties that should be called.
But the majority of games you watch nowadays has plenty of no-call hooking, holding, interference, you name it.
And now, the NHL is turning a blind eye to the game by game mugging of the best player in the league, Sidney Crosby.
It's not an exaggeration.
Nearly EVERY GAME now, Crosby is getting speared, buttended, slashed, high-sticked, and cross-checked to the head.
And that's just within the last two weeks !!!!
To make matters worse, when the NHL reviewed the spearing of Crosby by Jason Blake a couple of weeks ago, the league tapped Blake on his ass and fined him $1000, which is equivalent to a night's tab for he and his Islanders buddies at one of the NYC titty bars.
Moreover, the sentiment (not officially stated by the league, but inferred) was that Crosby was embellishing the spear, therefore that resulted in the low fine, and no suspension.
Last Thursday, at center ice on the opening faceoff of the game, Canadien goon Max Lapierre buttended Crosby in plain view of the referees.
Again, no penalty, no suspension.
Then yesterday afternoon, Crosby was high-sticked to the face by the Canadiens' Francois Bouillon.
You guessed it, no penalty.
We can even go back to last year, when Darian Hatcher high-sticked Crosby to the mouth, chipping 3 of his teeth and gashing his mouth.
I shouldn't have to tell you that there was no penalty.
I'm not stumping for preferential treatment for Crosby, hell that would be the day.
But for Christ sakes, Crosby not only is receiving physical abuse that should be warranting many more penalties than have been getting called, but some of these not only should be getting penalties, but warranting suspensions.
But so far, not a damn one.
So if you're Ray Shero, what do you do ??
Go out and get a goon of your own (he's got Eric Cairns, but he's out indefinitely with post-concussion symptoms, so he doesn't count) ??
Do you make a trade like the recent rumors indicated like George Laraque or Brian McGrattan ??
I'm sure it's tempting for Shero, but I doubt he'll pull the trigger. Here's why;
- There's no way that a goonish teammate will be playing on the same shift as Crosby if/when he gets roughed up
- Who do you remove out of the lineup to put the goon in ??
- Do you really want to trade away a player and/or draft pick for someone for realistically 30 games or less, since playoff fights are a rarity nowadays ??
But it's not just Crosby, Brendan Shanahan recently aired similar remarks in reference to the nightly abuse that Jaromir Jagr is taking.
The NHL has enough problems as it is, and with the renewed Versus contract, they're just digging the grave deeper with bonehead moves like that.
But if they continue to allow the "garbage league" antics to continue, and it's stars to get Hack-a-Shaq'd every night, you might as well yank it off of Versus and the regional networks too, 'cause no one wants to watch this horseshit again.