Tuesday, 28 October 2014

One Is Better Than The Other?

I'll admit that things have changed. I used to be a fan of Chris Kreider. I like the tenacity he brought to the ice that worked in tandem with his doggedness for the puck and his nose for the net. I lost some respect for Kreider last season when he ran into Carey price in the Eastern Conference Final, and last night might be the straw that broke the camel's back. Kreider's hit from behind on a defenceless Jonas Brodin was cowardly, dangerous, and completely stupid. Following that, John Moore targeted the head of Erik Haula and sent him sprawling. These two Rangers need to sent a message because player safety seems to matter little to them until it happens to them.

Today, Neal is back with his thoughts on these two hits. I'll have more below his thoughts, but let's kick things off with a reaction towards Kreider's and Moore's actions in last night's Wild-Rangers game. Take it away, Neal!
I saw something last night that made me cringe. Anyone who knows me closely knows that I am a devout New York Rangers fan. I grew up as a young kid listening them on the radio as a way to fall asleep. I also remember vividly their magical run in '94 to their last Stanley Cup. As much blue kool aid as GTYC co-writer John says that I have drank, I was absolutely disgusted by the two plays I saw the Rangers players make last night.

Let's talk about Chris Kreider’s hit first on Jonas Brodin. Replays show that Kreider skates full force into Brodin several feet away from the boards from behind driving him head first into the boards. Kreider was given a match penalty and a five-minute major for boarding. There is simply no defending this hit. There was absolutely no reason why this play should have been made. Kreider, who has blazing speed, simply could have gone to the side of Brodin and bumped him off to the side. I'm actually shocked that the intent to injure wasn't called on this play as I feel like this play is more vicious than the John Moore hit. The NY Post has reported it is somewhat unlikely that Kreider will face a suspension given the fact that it was a reckless play. If that is the case, boohoo on the NHL. Kreider should get at least five games for what was a complete dirty play. He may not have "meant it", but, at some point as an NHL player, you have to know that you can't drive someone full-force into the boards from in front of the net. What disappoints me most about Kreider is I feel like he is already gaining a reputation as a dirty player.

Listen, I defended Kreider to the end about the Carey Price hit. To this day I still think he was tripped and sent into Price rather than him just running the goalie. The problem is that for fans of rival teams, this is another thing that adds to the tab of Kreider. It's another notch on the resume that makes him closer to someone like James Neal than he should be. Kreider is someone I expected to come close to thirty goals this season - he's an absolute beast given his size and speed - but he can't score if he's in the press box serving suspensions. While he is part of the future, I hope Kreider realizes that with guys like Anthony Duclair and Kevin Hayes breathing down his neck for playing time, if he becomes a liability based on penalties and suspensions he could become expendable. He simply has to play with an edge, but within control.

John Moore is a different situation. He was ejected last night for a nasty elbow delivered to Erik Haula in the second period. This also was inexcusable and dirty, but I’m not sure he deserved the intent-to-injure ruling. Moore's problem is that he is a repeat offender. A similar elbow happened in the Eastern Conference Final to Dale Weise of the Canadiens. Moore was suspended for that hit. It has been reported that Moore will not be required to have an in person meeting, though he can have one if he would like. This is just unacceptable. If he gets 5 games that is only about 7 percent of the season. Even 10 games this early in the season seem somewhat inconsequential. By January, we will forget that anything will have happened at all. These guys who are repeat offenders need to have some teeth in their discipline, otherwise there won't be a disincentive to the action. If the league office really do care about the safety of the players, 15-20 games should be perhaps a starting point for even a first-time offender on a particularly nasty hit. These players have to get the message that these kind of plays will not be tolerated at all.

I know what I have typed seems extreme, but in an environment where the players are bigger and faster it is absolutely necessary to protect the NHL players from needless injury. I don't want to be someone who is viewed as wanting a soft game - in fact, I love a nice tight checked game. However, the health of its players is vital to the league. For the star players, people pay big money to attend NHL games. You don't want to pay 100 bucks a pop to watch a Pens game while Sidney Crosby is out with a concussion. Whenever dirty plays happen, it hurts the bottom line of the league. For the players who aren't stars, their time in the NHL may be very limited. Not only every season are they fighting for a job, but they often make close to the league minimum. While that salary is a good chunk of change to the average citizen, if they are out of the league in a couple seasons and have trouble finding an outside career due to permanent effects of injury, that player may struggle the rest of his life. While playing in the league is temporary, the symptoms often are not.

As another side note, we all know that the NFL is starting to deal with the issues of lawsuits stemming from concussions and other injuries, it seems only logical that the NHL may face similar issues down the road. Considering sometimes that several franchises are teetering on the brink financially, anything like that that springs up could potentially cripple the league. The league has to be proactive in tougher suspensions for flagrant fouls in order to help some teams to simply survive.

In conclusion, I hope that the NHL brings the hammer down on Kreider and Moore. To me, it was a dark day to be a Rangers fan and overshadowed a tremendous comeback. It was doubly painful knowing this is the exact same thing we have accused other teams of doing. There is simply no other alternative. A light punishment for these two players is a step back in the issue of player safety.
Well said, Neal, and it's nice to hear a fan of the team with the offending players throw down the gauntlet in standing up for the opposition. Sometimes, in our devotion to the team, we can overlook or rationalize the behavior of players when it casts a negative light on the team, but it's refreshing to hear a fan look at this kind of problem objectively. Well done, sir!

First off, Kreider wasn't in Alain Vigneault's good books as it was. Kreider was removed from the Rangers' power-play units after he turned the puck over repeatedly. Adding some additional voluntary time in the press box won't get you out of the coach's doghouse either.

While it was announced earlier that Kreider will escape additional punishment for his hit on Brodin, I fail to see how the Department of Player Safety is looking out for player safety in allowing this kind of hit to pass by any supplemental discipline. Simply put, this is a failure on Stephane Quintal and his department considering the danger that Kreider put Brodin in. Kreider hit Brodin square in the numbers from above the goal line and drove him into the boards. That, readers, is the definition is a flagrant, dirty play. Apologies aren't needed, Chris - use your damned head!

Secondly, John Moore went head-hunting on Erik Haula. Haula fired the puck in on Henrik Lundqvist, and was in a vulnerable position when Moore struck. This hit looked a lot like the Matt Cooke hit on Marc Savard in terms of targeting the head, and the fact that Moore watched Haula cross the blue line, take the drop pass, and then fire the puck only proves that the intent Moore had was something other than "bodycheck". He could have easily bumped Haula with a shoulder-on-shoulder, but he crossed on front of Haula and led with his shoulder and elbow as he caught Haula's head. Simply put, it was a disgusting hit that could have had dire consequences considering that Moore basically blindsided Haula. This kind of crap needs to be cut out of the game, and I agree with Neal that ten games for a hit like this - especially with Moore being a re-offender - is nothing but appropriate.

You're welcome to sound off in the comments, and I'd like to see what the overall response to these two hits are. Do you defend them as "old-time hockey plays"? Do you want to see both players punished? Was one hit worse than the other? Sound off below, and we can discuss!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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