NHL rulings: coincidence or conspiracy?

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NHL rulings: coincidence or conspiracy?

By Jon Fucile
WickedGoodSports.com

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.

Celtics miss an opportunity in first half with LeBron in foul trouble

Celtics miss an opportunity in first half with LeBron in foul trouble

CLEVELAND – There are 240 minutes of play in an NBA game, but Boston’s 112-99 Game 4 loss to Cleveland came down to seven (six minutes and 46 seconds to be precise).

That would be the amount of time left in the second quarter that LeBron James spent on the bench with four personal fouls (a first for him in the first half of an NBA playoff game ever) and Boston ahead by 10 points.

Boston could not have asked for a better scenario than that, especially considering how well they had played up to that point in the game and again, knowing that James wasn’t about to set foot back on the court until the third quarter.

But here’s the problem.

Boston’s 10-point lead when James left with four fouls.

Halftime rolled around and Boston’s lead was still at just 10 points.

Celtics players agreed that not finding a way to increase their lead with James out was among the more pivotal stretches of play in Game 4.

“They did a really good job of not letting it (the 10-point lead) get out of control while he was on the bench,” Boston’s Marcus Smart told CSNNE.com. “Every time we scored, they came back and scored.  They answered back with everything we answered.”

While many will point to that stretch as a time when the Celtics failed to make the necessary adjustments to increase their chances of winning, it wasn’t as if the Cavs are a one-man team.

“They still have two All-Stars out on the court,” said Boston’s head coach Brad Stevens, referring to Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love. “With the best player in the world they go to unreal, but they’re still a pretty darned good team when those guys are out there.”

Irving had a playoff career-high 42 points which included him scoring 12 of Cleveland’s 14 points in the final 6:46 of the second with James on the bench.

“He’s one of the best point guards in the NBA, and you know, you can tell he puts in a lot of work in his game, a lot of respect from myself, my teammates,” said Avery Bradley. “We have to do a better job at defending him as a unit, trying to make everything hard on him. He definitely got a great rhythm going tonight, and I felt like we had a chance to make it harder on him.”

James still finished with a strong stat line for the night – 34 points, six assists, five rebounds and a blocked shot.

As good as he was on the court, the Celtics have to be kicking themselves for not doing more with the time James on the bench in the second quarter which in hindsight, was among the bigger factors in them now returning home facing elimination as opposed to being tied at two games apiece in this series.

“What are you going to do?” said Cleveland’s Kevin Love. “You have to continue to fight through it. At halftime, we were down 10. We made some adjustments on the defensive end and we just fought; we needed to. They got everything out of us tonight in that second half, but we played more inspired basketball as well.”