Haggerty: Hopefully Lucic suspension ends NHL conspiracy theories

Haggerty: Hopefully Lucic suspension ends NHL conspiracy theories
December 20, 2011, 5:11 pm
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Peter Chiarelli has heard the conspiracy theories that the Bruins get preferential treatment from the NHL. Whenever a borderline hit or questionable hockey play involves the Stanley Cup champs, the media and fan bases swirl up a concoction of Colin Campbell-fueled conspiracy theories that leave the Bruins free to burn and pillage the 29 other NHL organizations without any fear of retribution.

Never mind that Campbell is no longer the hockey executive in charge of handing out supplemental discipline to offending players. To those convinced theres something amiss when it comes to the league and the Bruins, logic and reason dont seem to actually apply.
They simply want to paint the Bruins as a team thats unfairly benefited from kid gloves when they are the offenders as a big, physical hockey club. Chiarelli said its all poppycock and hopefully Milan Lucic getting slapped with a one-game suspension for boarding Zac Rinaldo quiets some of that chatter.

That whole line of conspiracy thinking and Ive seen it on the record and stuff I mean, weve had our share of bumps along the way, with the Marc Savard stuff and the Patrice Bergeron stuff, said Chiarelli. I dont buy any of that stuff. Usually I look at stuff independently, and I think any arbiter will, or should. We may go forward at times now with getting a suspension, and I may complain on a case-by-case, but those are the rules that we play by, and Im okay with it.

The Bruins are a team that plays on the edge as evidenced by the recent 2500 fines handed out to Brad Marchand for slew-footing Matti Niskanen and to Adam McQuaid for kneeing Nick Foligno and they have players like Lucic getting banged with suspensions just like everybody else. Following a one-game playoff suspension for cross-checking Maxim Lapierre in the face, crushing Freddy Meier late in a game against the Thrashers last season that incited a team-wide brawl or slamming into Ryan Miller this season, Lucic was on thin ice in the leagues eyes.

So the hit from behind on Rinaldo was the perfect situation to make an example of Lucic, but hes also a player thats careful to keep his rage and aggression in control when it comes to his physical play. There arent many besides Ryan Dice Man Miller that view Lucic as anything but an honest player that plays an intense brand of hockey, and thats why the Bruins dont earn more suspensions.

For the most part the Bruins are bigger and stronger than nearly everybody else in the league, and can dominate without resorting to dirty tactics or edgy plays that could bring on injuries. That doesnt do much to further any conspiracy theories that have become more prevalent since the Bruins essentially bullied the Vancouver Canucks in seven games on their way to a Stanley Cup title.

The Bruins arent going to ask Lucic to play any differently now that the league is scrutinizing him more closely, and nor should they.

We went into the year with the new rule changes thinking that we were going to be a little more heavily scrutinized. We might have even played a heavier game in the playoffs, and people were clamoring that we got away with stuff. Maybe we did, maybe we didnt, said Chiarelli. But thats the way we built the team and Im going to continue to build it that way. If I could find another Milan Lucic, Id be very pleased. I think everyone in the league would want a player like that."

We wont stray from how we built it, and well continue to put the pieces in that have some character and have some toughness.

Theres little reason for the Bruins to shy away from the way they play the game of hockey. The Big Bad Bruins style has won them 19 games in their last 22 tries and again has them as the rightful top dog in the Eastern Conference for the first time all season. The Bs even weathered a game without Lucic after he served his suspension while missing out on a rivalry games against the hated Habs. It was a shame for Lucic given how much he enjoys playing and beating Montreal, but perhaps it will finally put to bed the notion that the Bruins get preferential treatment from the NHLs hockey ops department.

Nah, it actually probably wont. That would mean 29 other teams would need to look in the mirror and admit when they were beaten by a Bruins team that plays honest, punishing hockey that few other clubs can hang with.