Hockey Headlines

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Pot Calling The Kettle... Too Soon

In perhaps his most famous look, here is Craig Berube, current Flyers assistant coach, as a player. Berube was no angel while he was playing as he currently sits seventh in the NHL record books with 3149 PIMs in his career from 1986 to 2003. If you do the calculation, that's nearly 53 games in penalties. In other words, he spent a lot of time in the sin bin. It becomes hard to fathom why Berube would speak out after Mike Milbury had already apologized to the Penguins for his comments while Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette was fined for his comments. Yet Berube was back on the bandwagon with his comments about the Penguins' stars today on CSN's Philly Daily News Live.

"They slash, they punch guys in the face, they do all these little things," Berube said today. "I got no problem with what Schenn does, and if somebody runs him over, that’s great, they should run him over. This guy gets away with too much in my opinion, whines to the refs all day and all night, it’s a joke."

Wow. Strike up the band because we have the same old song and dance being played in Philadelphia yet again. However, one of the NHL's former enforcers saying this kind of stuff brings about the same raised eyebrows as when Milbury was making his comments. Why is a guy who was known for breaking the rules suddenly crying to the media about the very things for which he once defended his teammates?

Berube was in 250 NHL fights over his career, and there is no doubt that he jumped to the defence of many of the stars he played with when the time came. When he did, he essentially was defending the stars' actions on the ice by saying, "You play your game; I'll do the fighting". Now, suddenly, Berube has had a turn of heart when seeing this kind of stuff on the ice? Does he really think that this kind of argument will hold up in the public court of opinion when the guy has been anything but an angel on the ice? After all, here's Berube in the middle of a fight-filled Penguins-Flyers game from April 2, 1989.
From a coaching perspective, I get that Berube is calling out Crosby and Malkin in the hopes that the referees focus on their tactics in the upcoming game on Saturday and the inevitable playoff series between these two clubs. This would be a major success for the Flyers if Crosby and Malkin suddenly find themselves penalized for their retaliations, and the Flyers are gaining a margin in powerplay opportunities while these two offensive dynamos watch from the sin bin. Berube's strategy of making Crosby's and Malkin's tactics very public just days after Peter Laviolette and Mike Milbury did will only reinforce the scrutiny that Crosby and Malkin are under in the upcoming game and series against the Flyers.

This tactic has been used throughout sports to varying degrees of success, and I'm not faulting Berube for trying to bring light to the tactics used by Crosby, Malkin, or any other superstar. The problem is that Berube is piling on a problem that already cost his coach $10,000, and Laviolette's actions were clearly identified as actions that the NHL wants ended. I'm quite certain that Berube will be punished for this outburst in the media, and he should have known much better than to add his comments after the NHL hit Laviolette with a heavy fine.

Again, it's not like Berube was an angel by any means. The video above proves that, and the fact that Berube was suspended by the NHL in 1997 for making a racist comment towards Florida's Peter Worrell is more evidence that Berube routinely played outside the lines of clean play. I expect that the NHL will hand down some sort of disciplinary action on Berube after they had already fined Peter Laviolette, and it will remain to be seen just how closely Crosby and Malkin are watched during their upcoming games against the Flyers.

And to think that in 2009 Berube named Crosby and Malkin as two of the players he enjoyed watching. Funny how things change once the battle lines have been drawn.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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