Hockey Headlines

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Zero Respect

Honestly, I've seen just about enough. After the Bruins and Penguins took enough cheap shots at one another tonight to fill Brendan Shanahan's inbox for a while, the QMJHL went ahead and literally rewarded a player for nearly destroying a star-in-the-making's career. I'll get to ripping the QMJHL a new one in a second, but it's time for this lack of respect amongst players to stop. The injuries as a result of these cheap and undisciplined hits are awful, and it might be time to do something drastic to change how players view their opponents.

Last night, Team USA World Junior team hopeful and current Quebec Rempart Adam Erne threw an absolutely disgusting check-from-behind on Halifax's Jonathan Drouin that left Drouin out indefinitely with what the Mooseheads are calling a "brain injury". Here's the video, and prepare yourself for a major rant.
It's pretty clear that Erne pasted Drouin into the boards from that video, right? After the game, Erne was asked about the hit by the Metro News, and here's his response.
"He wasn't far from the boards and I pushed him pretty hard," said Erne, who also received a game misconduct for the hit. "I thought it was a dive and I thought everybody else did, too. I wouldn't have even gotten a penalty if he didn't dive into the boards."

He also said that Drouin could have absorbed the hit standing up, and avoided injury.

"If he dives and goes head first he's going to hurt himself," added Erne, who also knocked Murphy out of the game with a shoulder on shoulder check before stealing the puck and scoring the game's first goal.
I am nearly speechless due to anger. I cannot believe that Erne said what he said, but it's worse that he believes what he believes on that hit. DOVE HEAD-FIRST INTO THE BOARDS? Are you kidding me?!?

The hit was disgusting, the results see a star player out of action indefinitely, and everyone expected the QMJHL to rule on this. And they did as expected, but they threw in a twist that is nearly inexplicable: Erne will NOT be suspended for his hit on Jonathan Drouin.

Look, there's a simple rule in hockey: you don't hammer a guy if you see his numbers. Never. If you can see both numbers, you're hitting a guy from behind. Yet some are actually saying that Drouin is partly at-fault here! What the hell is wrong with everyone?

Here's where I draw the line in the sand, and you're either with me or against me. Hitting from behind is cowardly, dangerous, and illegal in every league on this planet. I don't care what anyone says about prone position and how Drouin needs to protect himself, there is a line crossed when you destroy a player who is vulnerable with his back to you.

Adam Erne is a player who has little respect for his opponents. It's extremely evident in his comments to reporters, so let's run down where his "explanation" falls apart, shall we?
  • "He wasn't far from the boards". Clearly, Erne saw how close he was. He just admitted it. Drouin isn't far from the boards at all, so basically Erne's entire explanation is contradictory to his initial statement. But let's continue.
  • "I pushed him pretty hard". Pushed? PUSHED?!? No, Erne basically hammered him with everything he had. What a crock. A push would see arms extend at least, but Erne followed Drouin right into the boards with the momentum of his body from chasing him across the ice. It was hardly a push that Erne delivered from any perspective.
  • "I thought it was a dive and everyone else did too". I'm not too sure when Erne had a chance to take a poll involving everyone, but Drouin simply fell after being hit from behind. I'd hardly call that a dive. Maybe he would be dazed due to having his face bounce off the plexiglass, but a dive? Wow. Shocking.
  • "I wouldn't have even gotten a penalty if he didn't dive head-first into the boards". Did Erne take a concussion in last night's game? Where exactly did Drouin dive into the boards? His face bounced off the plexiglass after Erne hit him! I'm pretty sure he never went head-first into the boards through his own volition. Erne's reality is different that ours, apparently. If Drouin was as close as Erne remembers from his initial statement above, he could not have dove into the boards head-first. Not ever. Unless he's a contortionist.
  • "If he dives and goes head first he's going to hurt himself". IF he dives, I agree. IF he had dove into the boards, I'd be agreeing with Erne 100%. However, re-read his first statement - "he wasn't far from the boards" - and explain to me how he'd physically be able to dive into the boards if he wasn't far from them. It's impossible, and Erne is doing nothing but rationalizing.
Look, there's a reason why police officers rarely rely on eye witness testimony - it's highly unreliable. Erne's testimony is completely different than what the video shows, and this is why I believe he plays with little respect towards his opponents. I appreciate that he finishes checks and is an intense player, but he's developing a reputation as a player who plays the wrong way.

Erne, who has yet to play a regular season NHL game, has already been suspended by the NHL in his career. It cost him three preseason games in terms of his suspension, so he's already a marked man if and when his NHL career begins. That means he's now thrown an illegal check to the head of an established NHL player, so does anyone want to make an argument that he has respect for his fellow players and opponents?

The fact that the QMJHL didn't suspend Erne makes those who run that league as much of a joke as those who are defending Erne for his hit in my eyes. The QMJHL is supposed to be grooming players for the next level, but it seems that they have no interest in teaching those players any sort of discipline. And I'm not just talking about discipline in the law-and-order sense. No, there's discipline in knowing when to throw a big check and there's discipline in knowing when to let up. Erne knows the first because it's been instilled in him by coaches. Erne hasn't learned the second type of discipline, and he's literally begging the QMJHL to help him learn it after he didn't get enough of a lesson from the NHL and Brendan Shanahan.

Instead, the QMJHL showed its cowardice by shying away from sending a message about hitting from behind. The message being sent to Adam Erne and to other players is that a checking from behind will be tolerated in the QMJHL. And if that type of hit is tolerated, it's pretty clear that the QMJHL has no interest in teaching its players about respecting one another.

I will say this: I do believe that Adam Erne is a smarter kid than he showed on Friday. I will ive him the benefit of the doubt on this one. I do think that he plays on the edge, and that will get him in trouble sometimes simply due to the dangerous nature of playing on edge. I also think that he knows the hit on Drouin was dangerous.

However, he still deserved to be suspended, even if only for a game, to send a message that lining a guy up with his numbers clearly facing him is wrong and dangerous. The fact that the QMJHL thoight differently shines them in whole new light, and it's not a good light.

Doing the right thing may be hard, but it's the right thing to do. To not act is an act of cowardice that shall not be ever celebrated and should be condemned. I hope that the collective consciences of those who made that decision are happy with the results when it comes to the next incident of this type because if the players don't respect the league's decisions concerning this type of hit, they'll never respect one another enough to stop throwing these types of hits.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!


Anonymous said...

What does it feel like to put your heart and soul into a blog that no one reads? After 7 years of doing this I bet it feels great. :)

Teebz said...

Thanks for commenting! It helps my numbers! :)