Hockey? More violent now? You must be kidding.


Hockey? More violent now? You must be kidding.

Mike from Attleboro -- the leading contributor to Michael Felger's old mailbag and one of Felger's favorite callers to his radio show -- is now contributing occasional pieces to Today he gives his take on Kevin Paul Dupont's assertion that hockey is being destroyed by an "ever increasing culture of violence."
If you were watching the four-letter network this past week you might have noticed they actually mentioned the NHL. That means one of two things: Either Bill Simmons is pretending he understands hockey again, or something really shocking happened.

This round of coverage stems from a Raffi Torres hit on Marion Hossa that was jarring enough to prompt the customary outrage from talking heads who probably think a Zamboni is some type of Italian pastry. This is nothing new to legitimate hockey fans.

What was both surprising and disappointing was this weeks Boston Globe hockey notes column. In it, hockey guru Kevin Paul Dupont decries what he feels is a toxic situation in the NHL. He thinks that an ever increasing culture of violence is leading to the game's disintegration. According to Dupes, unless something drastic is done, the game will eventually cannibalize itself in a flurry of mayhem.

To give Kevin his due respect, he has been covering the NHL since the late '70s. Hes in the Hockey Hall of Fame writers wing and, as the clich goes, has forgotten more about hockey than I will ever know.

Unfortunately, my problem with him stems from the stuff hes forgotten about.

Quite simply, there's no way the NHL is more violent today than when Dupes started on the beat, or even recently. Its an impossibility, given the on-ice shenanigans that went on decades ago and the way even marginal missteps are dealt with today.

Hop into a time machine and punch up the 1970s. You have complete, bench-clearing riots. Stick fights. Fans being beaten with shoes. The Broad Street Bullies-era Flyers won back-to-back Stanley Cups with a brand of on-ice terrorism so intimidating that players routinely came down with the Philadelphia Flu to avoid three 20-minute beatings. Championships were won with equal parts finesse and fisticuffs.

The violence continued in the '80s as playoffs were marred with more on-ice mayhem. The Flames and Canadiens fought after Game 4 of the 1986 Stanley Cup Finals, and the Canadiens and Flyers brawled before Game 6 of the 1987 Wales Conference Finals. During last years Cup run, the Bruins' rugged play sparked league-wide outrage. The I Love the '80s NHL makes the 2011 Bruins look like members of the Peace Corps.

In the 1990s, Adam Graves lumberjacks Mario Lemieux (fracturing his hand), and Claude Lemieux sends Kris Draper into the cheekbone relocation program on a hit from behind. Both these incidents occurred during the postseason and were lightly disciplined.

And in the past decade Scott Stevens marauded through the playoffs, labeling the previously concussed Paul Kariya and transforming the contents of Eric Lindros brain pan into country gravy with patented headshots that got him into the Hall of Fame.

If you dont have a Mr. Fusion-equipped, time-traveling DeLorean handy, just cozy up to your friendly neighborhood Google machine and take a stroll down memory lane with the Ghosts of Hockey Violence past.

In 1987, Chris Chelios elbows Brian Propp into unconsciousness and starts a one-man blood drive.

In 1988, Dino Ciccarelli spent a day in the pokey after trying to clean Luke Richardsons ears with his Koho.

In 1992, Jamie Macoun broke Pat Lafontaines jaw with his stick.

In 1994 Tony Granato used his stick to play whack-a-mole with Neil Wilkinsons head.

Dale Hunter on Pierre Turgeon. Marty McSorely on Donald Brashear. Tie Domi on Scott Niedermayer. I could go on and on and on. All the above incidents represented levels of violence and intentional menace that dwarf the Torres hit. And every one of the infractions I just mentioned listed got less supplemental discipline than the 25 games for which Torres was suspended.

You want an example of culture change? Watch John Wensink completely destroy Larry Playfair in 1978. Wensink launches, targets the head and uses a forearmelbow to completely obliterate Playfair. But there was no supplemental discipline, no penalty and no response from the Sabres. It was Playfairs fault for having his head down and Wensink, in the words of Bruins color man Johnny Pierson, just delivered a good clean check. If that hit happened today, Katie Couric would get the vapors and Brendan Shanahan would ask Jor-El to make Wensink General Zods roommate in the Phantom Zone.

But according to Dupes' Twitter account, even Chris Neils clean freight-training of Brian Boyle is now going too far?

Times really have changed. Remember when Bruins defenseman Kyle McLaren clotheslined Montreals Richard Zednik in the 2002 playoffs? I wish Dupont did.

Here is what Kevin Paul Dupont wrote about that hit in April of 2002: News to the uninitiated: If you skate full bore, head down, and curl toward the slot, you may not be asking for it, but brother, chances are you're going to get it. Does that mean Zednik deserved what he got? Absolutely, positively not. But it is big-boy hockey, and it is the playoffs, and the Boston-Montreal rivalry is a decades-long powder keg. Zednik just happened in with the book of matches and McLaren lit him up.

"Head's up, folks, and eyes open - wide open. The big boys are playing now.

Instead of making Chris Neils hit illegal, maybe 6-foot-7 Brian Boyle should read more of Kevins older work?

I dont know if Pope Kevin Paul found Jesus because the NHL is actually diagnosing and treating concussions now, or if his tastes for what an acceptable amount of violence are being influenced or pressured by outside sources, but the NHL has changed. Today there are more penalties, more fines and more accountability both on ice and in Shanahans office. But to meddle any more with the danger, physicality and violence inherent in Hockey is going to damage he fabric of what makes the game great.

To further paraphrase what KPD said in 2002, its OK to feel for (injured players) but we have to remind ourselves, once more, that it's the Stanley Cup playoffs, and they're playing big-boy hockey right now.

Couldnt have said it better myself.

Coyotes hire Craig Cunningham as scout

Coyotes hire Craig Cunningham as scout

The Coyotes have hired former player Craig Cunningham as a pro scout, keeping the 26-year-old in hockey after a cardiac episode ended his playing career this season. 

Drafted by the Bruins in the fourth round of the 2010 draft, Cunningham played 34 games for Boston over parts of two seasons before he was waived and claimed by Arizona. He totaled 19 games for the Coyotes, but served as captain of the Tucson Roadrunners, the team’s AHL affiliate. 

Cunningham was hospitalized after he collapsed during pregame warmups on Nov. 19. He was kept alive by continual CPR, but had his lower left leg amputated the next months due to an infection from the episode. 

Known as a high-character player who was popular with his teammates, Cunningham’s transition to scouting lets him further his career after a scary break. 

"I'm very excited to begin the next chapter of my life with the Coyotes," Cunningham said in a statement released by the team. "I'm very grateful to John Chayka, Dave Tippett, the Coyotes and Roadrunners organizations, and all of the great fans across Arizona for the incredible support I've received over the past year. I'm looking forward to helping the Coyotes and I can't wait to get started in my new role."

Said Chayka, the team’s general manager: ”We're thrilled to have Craig join our hockey operations department as a pro scout. Craig was a smart, hard-working player with an incredible passion for the game. We're confident that he will bring those same qualities to the Coyotes in his new role and that he will be an invaluable asset to our organization. We look forward to Craig helping us in several areas and are excited that he is staying with the club."

Morning Skate: Overreacting to the Oilers' window

Morning Skate: Overreacting to the Oilers' window

Here are all the links from around the hockey world and what I’m reading while really enjoying what the CW does season in and season out with the Flash.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Don Brennan says that the Senators fans not showing up for Game 6 is their way of sticking it to Sens owner Eugene Melnyk.

*The talk is turning to the next captain of the Buffalo Sabres, and what they can do to help open up communication up and down the roster.  

*A guy that wore a Habs toque on his twitter avatar writes a glowing, praise-filled article about the performance of PK Subban during these Stanley Cup playoffs. He’s undoubtedly been good, but he just might have been wearing his Montreal Canadiens footie pajamas when he wrote this one, and rattling his fist at Habs management all the while.

*Interesting piece by Jason Gregor about the “window to win” for the Edmonton Oilers, and an odd notion that the window will close when Connor McDavid has moved out of his entry level contract. I’d say that’s kind of ludicrous.

*The Colorado Avalanche coaching staff has been let go after last year’s dreadful season, and that’s too bad for a really good guy in former Providence College head coach Tim Army. I’m sure he won’t be out of work long.

*Colin White made his Stanley Cup playoff and NHL debut for the Ottawa Senators in Game 6, and helped push Ottawa to a Game 7. It will be interesting to watch the Massachusetts native and former Boston College standout develop with the Senators as White was one of the players that the Bruins skipped over to instead draft Jake DeBrusk and Zach Senyshyn in the first round of the 2015 NHL Draft. The others, Mathew Barzal, Travis Konecny and Kyle Connor, are all either in the NHL or knocking on the door as well, and it’s going to be a challenging road for both of Boston’s forward prospects to live up the justification of the B’s drafting them first. Granted DeBrusk and Senyshyn are also both doing their thing for the P-Bruins as they push into the conference finals of the Calder Cup playoffs, and they’re both bright prospects in their own right. It’s going to take years to determine the rights and wrongs of that first round, but White getting into the lineup for the Senators is proof of just how high that organization is on him.

*Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan says that Sidney Crosby handled the targeted abuse well from the Senators in a Game 6 loss that will push to a Game 7 between the Penguins and the Senators.

*For something completely different: A great message from Brookline homey and former Sox GM wonder boy Theo Epstein in his commencement address to Yale University.