Blackhawks Head To The Stanley Cup But Should The NHL Move To Deal With The Ducks

200px-ChicagoBlackhawksLogo.svgWe had a great party with friends to watch the seventh and final game of the Western Conference Championship last night. I was, of course, thrilled by the crushing win by the Hawks and the return of the team to the Stanley Cup. This is the third Stanley Cup appearance for the Blackhawks in five years. They have won five Stanley Cup championships since their founding in 1926 as part of the “Original Six” NHL teams with the Detroit Red Wings, Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs, Boston Bruins and New York Rangers.

The series with the Ducks has been thrilling, though all of those overtime games played havoc with my sleep and schedule. I did not want to write about one aspects of the series until it was over however. I have long been a critic of how basketball now seems just a long series of fouls and free throws and how the same thing is happening in football where penalties are mounting for what seems accidental or natural moves by players. For that reason, I am the last person to argue for more penalties in professional sports but the Anaheim Ducks have changed my mind. The Ducks, a team with particularly large players, has been open about its primary method of playing hockey: hits. Indeed, one of my least favorite players, Ryan Kesler, bragged about how the team was punishing the Hawks with huge hits and promised his fans ““No human can withstand that many hits.” Well, they did but that does not mean that this is how hockey should be played.

Anaheim_Ducks.svgI thought the Ducks played like thugs. That included an earlier game penalty involving Clayton Stoner’s crosscheck to Andrew’s Shaw’s face or the Ducks defenseman doing a crosscheck square in the back of Marcus Kruger. Then there was the unsportsmanlike conduct that seems to be the signature for the Ducks. For example, millions watched as Duck Corey Perry went over during one of the earlier games and just grabbed the stick of Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa. Hossa tried to pull his stick away but Perry just stood there in the middle of the ice taunting him and not letting it go. Rather than take the bait, Hossa let go of his stick and skated away. Perry then stood there holding the stick and eventually threw it to the ice. No penalty.

The way that the Ducks play sends an awful message to kids and takes away from the game itself. There was some incredible hockey played in these games, but the Ducks continually returned to hits and taunts. I know that I will receive a barrage comments from the “that’s how the game is played” crowed but that is not true. Hits are and will remain part of hockey but there should be some limit. When the Ducks were sputtering out last night there were a couple of hits that were vicious and gratuitous. There needs to be some imposition of rules of adult conduct for teams like the Ducks.

The clearly stronger team won last night and it also happened to be the better team. I say this not as a lifelong Hawks fan. I would be equally critical if poor conduct was coming from my side (as has been the case with the Bears recently in the McDonald debacle). The Ducks are an example of the need for reform in the NHL to deal with unsportsmanlike conduct in my humble opinion.

48 thoughts on “Blackhawks Head To The Stanley Cup But Should The NHL Move To Deal With The Ducks”

  1. Paul, Although I am not practicing it now, I have a geology degree and movies like that make me insane and I refuse to go. I did go see Mad Max though since I read that it was done mostly without a green screen.

    1. Jim22 – thought Mad Max was great. Saw Tomorrowland this weekend, it was 2 hours I will never get back. Brad Bird is going to have a tough time coming back from this one.

  2. Nick

    ‘Hockeytown’ was the home of my team growing up. Howe, Sawchuck, and the rest. Montreal will always be to hockey what New York is to baseball, the most Stanley Cups and the greatest group of players at one time. If you can, rent a movie called ‘The Rocket’. It is the life of Rocket Richard growing up, working eight hours a day as a machinist and then playing professional hockey, practicing in outdoor neighborhood rinks with barely any pads, no helmets and becoming one of the all time greats. The French Canadians were treated much like the blacks were in the South. Booed in Detroit and given penalties when a Red Wing high sticked on a regular basis, Richard finally had enough and knocked out a referee. They made him apologize instead of giving him a medal. Richard went down the ice with a player hanging off of his back and scored. It does not have the depth and degree of those rising above the crimes whites laid on blacks in the states but it is a great story. ‘Hockey Night in Canada’ was every Saturday night, but it was usually over in the Winter, not in June.

  3. Jim, Greenies were so ubiquitous in clubhouses back in Willie’s day I would guess he took them. But, I consider amphetamines a considerably less performance enhancer than steroids. When MLB started testing for amphetamines just a few years ago[Bouton alerted us all 40 years ago about greenies], all of a sudden there was a huge uptick in players w/ “legit” RX’s for Adderral and Ritalin ostensible to treat ADHD. When amphetamines help the most are in the dog days of August and September. You’re in a pennant drive, you’ve played 25 days in a row, and you’re exhausted. They do enhance your performance, no question. But steroids make you stronger and quicker. For a batter, it allows them to wait that millisecond longer on a pitch to identify it and swing accordingly. MUCH bigger advantage.

  4. Put another one in the JT needs to stop whining category. As a lifelong Islanders fan, I have to go with the lightning as much as it pains me that they are in FL. But taking out the Rangers, I feel I must rout for them.

    Nick,
    Are you so sure ol’ Willie didn’t take any of those greenies back in the day? I have a hard time drawing any lines in professional sports. i am no Bonds fan (Because I think he is a jerk) but the idea that sports records mean anything is silly. records for me stopped meaning anything when Cal Ripken Jr. broke Gehrigs “iron Man” streak. Ripkin wasn’t half the player Lou was and should have been taken out long before he had a chance to get the record. If I was Cal I would have sat out the game before breaking it.

  5. Chicago is one of the best cities in America and the variety of sports teams is amazing. I never lived there but I have visited in a prior life before I was a dog and I have gone to one Blackhawk game, one White Sox game, three Bears games and thirty Cubs games. On a day game at Wrigley you can get a ticket on the street from a scalper at a reasonable price and sit in the very best stadium in America. Recently they put up an ugly tv screen in the left field and another one in right field and it is a crime against humanity.

  6. Paul

    The Blues were not crap this year. In the first round of the playoffs they drew the team that was playing the best hockey in the NHL over the last half of the season. Had the Blackhawks drawn that team in the first round, the Blackhawks might have lost as well. Instead, the Blackhawks faced them in round two, after they had spent themselves beating the Blues.

  7. And I’m also in the “want some cheese to go with your whine, JT?” camp. What happens today is not nearly as bad as how hockey used to be.

  8. My team is the Chicago Cubs of hockey, the St Louis Blues. I’m still waiting for their first Stanley Cup. I became a fan for life after defenseman Noel Picard came to the lake where us neighborhood kids played ice hockey in the winter and gave us kids some tips on playing hockey. Picard (not related to Jean Luc ) was friends with one of the families in our neighborhood.

    1. Don de Drain – that is the sort of thing that will make you a fan for life. Sorry the team is crap. 😉 Of course we have the Coyotes, so what can I say.

  9. if a player has the puck or just moved the puck( one stride or sticklength away) then he is supposed to be hit. It just so happens that the Ducks are huge up front. Quit whining and stay with football. Playoff hockey is supposed to be hard.

  10. Easy to deter violence in pro sports, just compare today’s NBA to the 80s and 90s. Though all NBA playoff suspensions should be for a minimum of the next 48 PLAYOFF minutes, plus an equal number of regular season minutes.

  11. I’m a Penguins fan, so you’ve got to know that I have some strong opinions about thuggery–teams have been cheap-shotting against Pittsburgh since Lemieux first stepped on the ice a couple of decades ago, and it’s only become worse with Crosby and Malkin leading the roster.

    So do I think there should be sanctions? No.The refs called it the way they called it. Hockey is a physical sport, and must remain that way to a point. Do the Ducks cross the line–almost certainly, especially in an era of faster players and more offense. This does not mean that the Ducks tactics are water under the bridge. The rules exist to rein in the outliers–what is needed is the strength of will to enforce them, and the training and organization to do so consistently. As for the dire economic straights of the league, I’m one of those folks who have little interest in the sport as currently constituted–the fighting is like a flashback in a story. The plot stops dead. I much prefer a more fluid game.

  12. Professor: Those hits take a toll on the Ducks as well. They take extra effort to finish a check and the Hawks are among the best at slipping checks. During the game last night, the Hawks stretched the ice with a long passing game as the Ducks were given to chasing them. In the end, they were just worn out.

    eclinton: Bickell was injured. He’s been playing with an injury during this whole Championship series and it finally became too much. Hopefully, a couple days of rest will be enough to get him back on the ice because the Hawks are going to need him to carry out the brilliant defensive adjustments Quenville has made. During the last eight minutes of the game, they played defense with smoke and mirrors.

    Olly: RE your eerily familiar story: Once again, you fail to get it right (some things never change). The Hawks were the stronger team, you simply measure strength incorrectly. Perhaps you’re not athletically active; won’t fault you for that. Furthermore, the
    Hawks got their shots in during game 5. The Hawks did appeal to refs concerning the goalie interferences and the refs started making calls. After that, everything else you said seemed to come out of the same old bag of mush you’ve always had.

  13. Isaac, Again we are in agreement, on Howe but 100% on Big Head Barry and A-Fraud. Have you noticed they have both been praising each other in a two man fraudster circle jerk? Bonds made my blood boil when he “spoke” for his “godfather” Willie Mays in saying Willie would be honored to have A-Fraud pass his home run total. I think Willie has some memory problems now and therefore shuns the media, even more so than he always has. I believe Willie is pissed!

  14. Aridog, I am impressed w/ you having met those 2 great players in Hockeytown. I know that moniker galls Canadians.

  15. Pogo, Now I understand your motivation. I did not see it w/o your prompt.

  16. Nick …said…

    Isaac, As you know, Gordie Howe was no choir boy.

    No kidding. I grew up watching the “original six” play in both Detroit and Montreal. Gordie also had an advantage, besides being strong enough to defend himself, he had Ted Lindsey who would punish anyone who took a cheap shot at Howe. They were next door neighbors near where my dad lived and I met them both, long after I’d stood in line to get a signature on a hockey stick in Olympia Stadium. Both were gentlemen, except on the ice.

  17. Nick

    Gordie Howe was no choir boy and he held his own physically. But he didn’t need to use his muscle cuz he had all the other ingredients. Mark Messier is the same way. Messier is built like a tank and if he hits back the other player gets the message. The guys that give sports a bad name are the football players that simply try to break someone, the hockey players that simply try to break someone, the baseball players that use steroids to break records.

    Personally I like the magic that some players can perform, like Rice, Gretzky, Ozzy Smith, etc. I lived in the Bay area for 14 years and watched Bonds get bigger and bigger as he hit home run after home run, all the time shooting up. He was a bum then and he is a bum now. Barry Bonds and Alex Rodriguez are the worst things that happen to sports.

  18. Gotta say that while I agree more could be done, and without benefit of any data analysis…purely from memory, Cup series in the past involved regular brawls and, having watched every game of the 3 series the Rangers played, I don’t recall a single fight, let alone a brawl. Yes, of all the playoff teams, the Ducks were probably the most thuggish, but I really do think that the league (and the fans, because their preferences determine almost every league action) has made a lot of progress over the years and, while that doesn’t mean they couldn’t do better, they deserve some credit too!

  19. The Ducks, while chippy hardly qualify as a team to be “dealt with”. Kesler should have been dealt with regarding his spineless hit from behind on Kruger; Perry should be penalized (not “dealt with”) for his 1/2 trips to gain a positional advantage — which incidentally backfired on The Hawks 1st goal; anyone pounding on the goalie who is covering the puck should be penalized.

    Several respondents here have it right — hockey in the 70’s and early 80’s was much more “thuggish” than today. The NHL should properly “deal with” bush-league hits to the head and from behind … The Ducks as a team (nor anyone else) don’t need to be “dealt with” unless they play that way.

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