By Jon Fucile
For years, the NHL has had trouble gaining the same type of dedicated following the NFL and the boring MLB have. With recent rulings regarding headshots and hits from behind and playoff games that look rigged so more series go to a Game 7, it is no surprise why the NHL gets little respect.
First, you have Colin Campbell who apparently dishes out suspensions based on who he either likes best or whoever paid him the most that day. Then you have referees who apparently haven't read their hand guide or who have been told to ignore certain penalties, giving the NHL the appearance of being rigged.
Penalty statistics in this years playoffs show that calls have heavily favored whichever team is down 3-2 in their series and more often than not the team that got all those calls in their favor forced a Game 7. Teams with better ratings, such as Philadelphia over Buffalo, have had blatant penalties and suspension worthy hits ignored while other less marketable teams have had players serve a game or two.
Coincidence or NHL conspiracy?
Take for example the separate cases of Steve Downie and Mike Richards. Downie players for the Tampa Bay Lightning, a team no one outside of Tampa Bay cares about. Downie left his skates and led with his forearm while laying down a vicious hit behind the net in a recent game against Pittsburgh. No one was injured but Downie was suspended for one game.
Now take Mike Richards. In Game 4 against Buffalo he threw a blatant elbow and then in Game 6 he boarded Tim Connolly, effectively removing him from the game and the resulting Game 7. Two different calls for a guy that is known to be just as dirty as Downie yet he was not suspended on either call.
Why? Well the expert detectives on the Wicked Good Sports staff hacked into Gary Bettmans email and found his copy of the NHL rulebook. Here is the section regarding elbowing:
Now, Richards did get a penalty, but Im sure Pierre McGuire left a nasty voicemail at the NHL offices for penalizing his husband... Mike Richards.
This is pretty much what happened. Intent shouldnt matter, but that was one of the reasons the NHL gave for not suspending Richards. An elbow to the face is the same regardless of whether or not there was intention and Mike Richards has a history of this kind of crap.
Yup. Pretty much. Richards hits were just as dangerous as Downies, if not more so, but no suspension. In fact, we also found this photo in Bettmans email that was taken directly after Richards pretended he was Macho Man Randy Savage:
Clearly they dont really care about player safety and anything they say is nothing more than lip service. The NHL also apparently doesnt care about fair competition.
The Montreal Canadiens are divers. This is a well known fact. The refs know this. There is even a rule against diving in the NHL rulebook. Yet, nothing is ever called against them. In fact, the Canadiens were only assessed one diving penalty during the regular season.
Yeah, let that sink in for a minute. The biggest divers in the league only got one penalty all season.
Why? Well, that was also covered in Bettmans copy of the rulebook:
Carey Price took one of the all time classic dives in Game 6 against the Bruins. Any time an opposing skater goes by him, Price goes down like he was shot even if no one touched him. There is no way anyone that is not blind could miss itexcept for NHL refs. Here some footage from last night:
And again here is Bettman and Campbells response:
This is basically what happens. A Montreal player feels a gentle breeze, goes down and then the refs call a penalty on whichever opposing player was closer. Way to respect the game guys.
This one speaks for itself. Montreal knows the refs wont call so they continue to do it. These are the precedents the NHL has set. Sure, go elbow a guy in the head because chances are you will not be disciplined. While youre at it, take a dive because we wont even say anything to you and well put your team on the powerplay. Good job NHL, youre really working hard to maintain the integrity of the game.
What the NHL is doing is proving they do not care about player safety, respect or fair competition. Apparently certain rules do not apply if your team constantly cries to the league or if there is a potential Game 7 in the playoffs, as the NHL has to milk that cash cow for all it is worth and in the process they are ruining a lot of really, really good hockey games.