Julien: On-ice verbal taunts starting to cross the line

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Julien: On-ice verbal taunts starting to cross the line

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs
BOSTON -- Many hockey people are convinced an unwritten rule in the hockey world was crossed when Sean Avery complained he was the victim of homophobic barbs uttered by Philadelphia Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds.

The words were offensive if Simmonds truly said them, and on one level Avery was courageous in standing up for a cause he adamantly believes in. But theres also the code among NHL players that trash talk and on-ice insults never reach the media, and you dont go public with something said to you during a game.

There is some nasty stuff out there. Chatter about divorces and player backgrounds or physical characteristics are commonplace, and there was even an instance two years ago when Mike Richards threatened to knock Marc Savard back out with a concussion just months after the Matt Cooke incident.

It can get ugly when NHL players add a little salt to their language, and the competitive juices get involved. But clearly insults aimed at race, creed, religion, sexual orientation or players families is crossing over the line into an area that shouldnt be approached, but surely is in plenty of instances.

Claude Julien has witnessed this kind of trash talk behind the bench with the Bruins, and hes hoped for years that it would get cleaned up. Clearly theres verbal abuse for referees that has always been a part of the NHL, and there are penalties in place for stepping over the line. But the taunts and colorful language between players battling on the ice has been considered mental warfare, and off limits from discipline where its difficult to prove what was said.

There's a rule in place for when there's a certain type of language -- whether it's to referees and stuff like that you certainly can get tossed out of a game, said Julien. I'm one of those guys that believe that you know you shouldn't be crossing the lines. There are some things that are being said out there that are really crossing the line.

The Bruins coach is decidedly from the old school where certain topics are sacred within trash talk, and there are places you just didnt go. But in a world where rats like Avery, Steve Ott and Matt Cooke exist while lurking in the shadows and attempting to provoke their opponents, it seems that nothing is off-limits.

Whether that's been like that decades ago, I'm not quite sure. People are going after divorces or calling people certain names that I don't even want to allude to here, said Julien. But there is a fine line I think that has to exist. There's gamesmanship and then there's crossing the line. I think more and more, players today are going further than they used to so.

You'd hope that it would be policed by the players and by having a little bit more respect for each other. They are part of a player's association, they should all be part of a group and there should be at least that kind of respect that exists. Some people are better at refraining themselves than others. You always have those other kind of guys whether the league needs to step into it . . . it's always a hard thing to prove. You know he said, she said and whatever. It's not an easy thing to tackle.

As Julien alluded and as Avery found out again this week, policing conversations between players on the ice isnt an easy thing. Sure there is more access, more microphones and cameras to pick up conversations on the ice and sensitivities to so many items within each players life, but theres also the Fight Club mentality that continues to permeate the NHL at all levels.

Rule No. 1: Whatever is said on the ice stays on the ice. Rule No. 2: Always refer back to rule No. 1 during moments of confusion.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Haggerty: Reports of Seidenberg's demise were greatly exaggerated

Haggerty: Reports of Seidenberg's demise were greatly exaggerated

Hindsight is always 20/20, of course, but it appears the Bruins made a mistake buying out veteran defenseman Dennis Seidenberg from the final couple of years of his contract. 

Seidenberg just finished up a wildly successful stint with host Team Germany at the IIHF World Championships, where he was named Directorate Best Defenseman (the tournament’s best defenseman) after leading all D-men with a goal and eight points. This came after Seidenberg, at age 35, posted 5 goals and 22 points in 73 games for the Islanders, with whom he signed after being cut loose by the B's, while averaging a shade under 20 minutes per game.  Seidenberg also had an excellent World Cup of Hockey tournament for Team Europe last summer (where he was teamed once again with Zdeno Chara), thus managing to play at a high level from September all the way through May.

A faction of Bruins fans thought he was on the serious decline after the 2015-16 season and, clearly, the Bruins agreed, opting to buy him out with two more years still left on a sizable contract extension. (They owe him $2.16 million next season and then will be charged $1.16 million on their salary cap over the next two seasons.) But the B's could have used a durable, defensive warrior like Seidenberg in the playoffs, when they lost three of their top four defensemen against the Ottawa Senators. A rejuvenated Seidenberg, able to play both the left and right side, would have been a better option than Colin Miller.

The Bruins made a conscious decision to hand things over to younger defensemen like Miller, Torey Krug, Brandon Carlo and Joe Morrow in cutting ties with Seidenberg. But they also perhaps miscalculated how much Seidenberg still had left in the tank after his best season in at least three years. 

“Well, at the time we felt like [Seidenberg's] game had really dropped off to where we thought he couldn’t contribute, and we wanted to see if some younger players could come in and help us out,” Bruins president Cam Neely said at the end-of-the-season press conference earlier this month. “I’ve got to say he played well this year for Long Island. But at the time we thought it was the right move. You can’t envision us having three of our top four D’s get hurt [in the playoffs]. We went through a lot of D’s in the postseason. You can’t predict that.”

Neely is referring to the decision made after Seidenberg’s second straight minus season in Boston, when back injuries and a major knee injury had seemed to slow him down a bit. It seemed the only way to properly evaluate some of their other, younger defenseman was to cut Seidenberg loose, but one has to wonder if the Bruins would have possibly done it had they known he was still capable of playing like he did this season for the Islanders. 

Either way, the buyout of Seidenberg is an extremely legitimate second guess of Bruins management in a year where they did a lot of things right. 
 

Monday, May 22: Senators all out of playoff magic?

Monday, May 22: Senators all out of playoff magic?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while feeling like we’ll be getting a Pittsburgh/Nashville Stanley Cup Final, which I suppose would be the best possible outcome at this point.

*You hear the name and it just gets you angry all over again if you grew up watching the Bruins. Ulf Samuelsson is in the running for an assistant coaching job with the Chicago Blackhawks, according to a report.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Chris Johnston says it appears that the time is running out on a Cinderella season for the Ottawa Senators.

*A taste of winning at the world championships with Team Sweden could fuel Alex Edler’s desire for a change from the rebuilding Vancouver Canucks.

*Interesting piece on a former can’t miss goaltending prospect with the Nashville Predators that ended up totally missing, and what he’s been up to in life since then.

*Guy Boucher explains to Pro Hockey Talk why he kept changing goaltenders in the Game 5 blowout loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

*Don Cherry explains that he hates afternoon hockey during his Coach’s Corner from Hockey Night in Canada in the Game 5 blowout between the Penguins and Predators.

*A good piece from FOH (Friend of Haggs) Alex Prewitt on the Nashville Predators, and the evolution of the franchise into a team on the verge of a Stanley Cup Final appearance.

*For something completely different: What a win by the Boston Celtics in Game 3 in Cleveland, and quite an interesting, fired up interview with Al Horford afterward.