Bruins-Pens. True hate.

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No goons here. 402 + 1106 + 433 + 560 = 2501 points duking it out.

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If you’re a casual hockey fan I don’t need to tell you this but:  the Bruins-Penguins series should be epic.  For my Browns-centric friends, there’s a whole Steelers angle here that’ll help you understand the fuss if you don’t already.

The James Harrison of the Pens.

As Browns fans, we look upon the Steelers with loathing and respect and bewilderment.  They’ve consistently brought a mix of incredible talent with requisite dirtiness to deliver more championships than any other team back to their fans.  The bewildering part is that the high success has been maintained for decades.  Bradshaw and Lambert give way to Roethlisberger and Harrison.  Even the ‘down period’ between those eras yielded six straight playoff appearances with freaking O’Donnell/Tomczak/Stewart at QB.

Now picture the same special kind of dominance except the ‘down period’ is 15 years instead of 25.*  A team blessed with the two best players in the league yet also a cheap-shotting team who move a step beyond concussing players (Cribbs-MoMass-McCoy) and onto ending careers.

That’s the Pittsburgh Penguins.

What are the chances that a team could manage to build around the two best players in the league twice in 15 years?  Yet here we are and the Lemieux/Jagr era has been followed up with Crosby/Malkin.  The 90s supporting cast of Mullen HOF, Murphy HOF, Francis HOF, Coffey HOF, Trottier HOF, Stevens, Recchi, Straka, Tocchet, Barrasso gives way to the current Iginla, Letang, Neal.

Crosby: on board with that Pens thing.

(Ok, they’re not as stacked as that 90s team but the Roethlisberger Steelers weren’t as stacked as Bradshaw’s and still won two SBs.)

But unlike, say, a Red Wings dynasty where you just tip your cap… the Penguins manage to be hate-able and for Bruins fans the hate is personal.

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Ulf Samuelsson ends Cam Neely’s career.  

My all-time favorite hockey player and it’s not close:  Cam Neely.  You’ve never seen a player with the combo of big and physical and bad-ass yet with such masterful scoring touch.  A once in a generation player completely different from the style of Gretzky or Lemieux.  He was his own enforcer and that’s partly why his career ended technically at 30 but actually at 25.  Here’s the video of Samuelsson’s infamous leg check.  It led to myositis ossificans** the net being that his injured muscle turned into an inoperable brick of bone.

Following the aforementioned injury, Neely managed to play only 9 and 13 games, respectively, over the next two seasons, and never played more than 49 games in a season after that due to the pain associated with the now chronic condition.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=orQ-S7qw3pU?rel=0&w=420&h=315]

Neely’s 50 goals in 49 games in 1993-94 was the greatest season-long performance I’ve ever seen.  Harry Sinden’s subsequent low-balling on Cam was the darkest mark in the dark period Sinden/Jacobs/Kvartolov era.  Fortunately for the Bruins, Cam forgave them and has proven himself to be a great president.

Ulfie stayed with Pens through their back-to-back cups before moving on.  Not usually a fan of Tie Domi or head injuries but there’s an element of justice here.

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Matt Cooke ends Marc Savard’s career.

Marc Savard was an important part of the 2010 Bruins.  He was an in 2008 and 2009 and was trending to his usual 90 points as the Bruins’ first line center.  Then the cheapest shot one of the top-5 cheapest shots in the history of the NHL.

Matt Cooke was not fined, nor was he suspended or reprimanded in any way for this hit.  Marc Savard is assistant coach for his son’s pee-wee team.

Don Cherry gets it 100% right here.  It includes a highlight reel with about ten Cooke cheap shots:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nig2naN8NTs?rel=0&w=560&h=315]

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But Matt Cooke is still playing and still cheap-shotting.

Which brings us to the height of hypocrisy in the form of…

url

Patch to be added to Crosby’s sweater.

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Mario Lemieux threatens to sell because Sid Crosby gets concussion.

There’s a lot not to like about Pens’ owner Lemieux.  I’m going straight his silence after his player ends Savard’s career and then his WHINING when it happens to his player.

The NHL had a chance to send a clear and strong message that those kinds of actions are unacceptable and embarrassing to the sport. It failed,” he said. “We, as a league, must do a better job of protecting the integrity of the game and the safety of our players. We must make it clear that those kinds of actions will not be tolerated and will be met with meaningful disciplinary action.  If the events relating to Friday night reflect the state of the league, I need to rethink whether I want to be a part of it.

Don’t let the door hit you in the ass Mario.  You’re the guy who signed Matt Cooke to a 3 year, $5.4M contract after the Savard cheap shot.  Cry.  Me.  A.  River.

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As for Matt Cooke…

Matt Cooke and Game One’s hit-from-behind.

He got ejected for a hit from behind in Game one.  The play was a simple dump-and-chase; puck tight against the wall; McQuaid had position; Cooke’s got nothing but back to hit.

Let’s see if he gets it yet.

I think it’s a penalty but I don’t think it’s an ejection or a suspension but that’s my opinion.

Yeah, he doesn’t get it.

But … unlike the NBA’s Wade non-suspension … we don’t want Cooke suspended.  On the contrary, we want Matt Cooke on the ice as much as possible.  Preferably when Thornton or Lucic are around.

And yet…

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Here is why hockey is great.

From the pre-eminent Bruins blog, Days of Y’Orr, we receive a level-set:

I want to talk about Matt Cooke’s hit for a minute. It was uncalled for and it was dirty and I wanted to say something to both fanbases:

STFU

To our Boston readers, I’m sick of hearing Matt Cooke come from your lips, especially when the Bruins have a dirty player of their own in Brad Marchand.

To any Pittsburgh readers, I’m sick of you saying “Brad Marchand is so fucking dirty” when you have the king of dirty hits.

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The NHL is fan-tastic.

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*  Also:  imagine a world where ‘down periods’ represent ‘no championships.’  Pittsburgh’s down periods aren’t about losing records or missing the playoff.  Pittsburgh’s down periods are measured by the time between Lombardi Trophies and Stanley Cups over your head.

** Peyton Hillis suffered this injury while at Arkansas.

2006: Suffered a left deep thigh bruise on the opening kickoff vs. Alabama (9/23) and did not return to the game…Sat out the team’s final four games vs. Mississippi State (11/18), Louisiana State (11/24), Florida (12/02) and the Capital One Bowl vs. Wisconsin (1/01/07) with calcification to the bone in his right thigh.

Given that it’s inoperable, Hillis’ short career was to be expected.  I never understood why this wasn’t reported about Hillis.  But being a Neely fan, I was much more tuned in to it.  By the way, Hillis is currently an unrestricted free agent at age 27.

  • Petefranklin

    I once saw ten guys on the ice stop brawling to watch the goalies go at it in the igloo in 1983 or 1984. After the goalie fight got broken up , all 10 guys went back to brawling again. The most awesome hockey game ever, and my Langway led Caps kicked their ass!

  • i retain the right to use this youtube for other reasons but goodbye my coney island bay-bee..
    http://youtu.be/XoBBuzRlQlk

  • I must confess I am a Flyers fan and here’s my commiseration with you. Cam Neely was a great player and seeing Ulf Samuelsson get his would never get old. See here:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bkTKvWgy7Ls

  • NeedsFoodBadly

    I’ll actually echo that. I didn’t want to say anything because I complain too much around here. But… the new font IS hard to read. won’t keep me from visiting though, obviously.

    • oh it’s the NEW font? i can fix that. done. revert to default.

      • NeedsFoodBadly

        IT IS FIXED!

        looks great, thanks!

  • thanks grampa. 😉 i’m in the frozen-with-indecision phase concerning whether or not to go self-hosted. so been trying to limp along without too many changes for a bit.

    • You don’t think ‘Commitment to Non-Excellence’ with a gif of Joe Banner dragging his ass on your carpet is good SEO? short of linking to polls to vote for your favorite cheerleaders,, that’s tip top SEO!

      as leon would say: i gets mines titus. i brings the ruckus to the web.

      • not to worry. hey your presence is requested in the ncaa post comment section. bup has a proposal on the table for the soccer/club system as an alternate to ncaa football/basketball. do you have a take on that?

  • Great comments about Matt Cooke, he’s one of the dirtiest players in Hockey and when he was a Vancouver Canuck it made me disgusted he wore that jersey… (Maybe it was fitting with the Bertuzzi incident…) Just wanna say Kanick that I love the blog, huge Browns fan and I really enjoyed seeing a Hockey article on here. Wasn’t expecting it.

    • hah, thanks. fwiw, i’ve lived in the boston area since the late 80s. e.g., i never warmed up to adam oates.. was always a janney guy. so an occasional bruins take will happen.

      funny you mention vancouver because they were surely a hate-able team (from a boston perpsective) with the sedin sisters and classic montreal instigator-type burrows.. and the rome hit on horton… the 2011 canucks had a lot to dislike. and effing torres. (no offense.)

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8voTc9A7qDQ

      THAT was an epic series.

      i was starting to tie them into the piece, but they just had that one year. pens have a g.d. tradition.

      (and yeah, that bertuzzi hit is as bad as it gets. hard to watch.)

      • As a Canucks fan the Final vs Boston was very tough to stomach. The team FINALLY got over the hump only to get outplayed and essentially dominated by Boston when they had the series in the palm of their hand! Forgot about that hit. During the final I didn’t have cable TV, so I listened to radio broadcasts over the internet. The team has really never been the same since the final, and that includes the Sedins… Boston earned the cup that year. I’ve kind of turned my back on the Canucks out of frustration (that and I follow the Browns much more closely). I still follow them but since I moved to Winnipeg I have invested a interest in the “home team” as well.

        In regard to rivalry, how do you feel about the Montreal Canadiens? When I lived in Nova Scotia, the divide between Hab’s fans and Bruins fans was pretty wild to witness. They’ve had some great playoff series in the last handful of seasons.

        The Canucks/Bruins really only had the final to draw on. The Bruins are hardly my favorite team but on the scale of dislike I would have to rank Detroit, Chicago and Colorado all higher on the list.

        Anyway, don’t be afraid to incorporate more hockey on occasion. (You can delete the other comment, apparently I don’t know how to leave them properly!)

        • Montreal is still the bigger rivalry but there’s just so much history between B’s-Pens for not being in same division. It’s kinda like in the70s, the Raiders-Steelers had a rivalry going but the real rivalry was the Browns.

          There’s only one subject I feel strongly about on the NHL: move a couple more teams to Canada. Was really happy to see Winterpeg get a team back. Seem like it was supported like a boss. I’d love to see Quebec City get a team back.

          • NeedsFoodBadly

            BRING BACK THE WHALERS!!!

            (i know nothing about hockey)

          • Petefranklin

            I wore a green Hartford Whalers T-shirt yesterday. I love the hockey talk Kanick! I still want to trade the cavs to Columbus for the Jackets and the lacrosse team.

    • Max

      I’m a Wings fan and I hate that they have Bertuzzi on their team. I grew up in Cleveland listening to Wings games on WJR, and I LOVED Probert and Kocur…but those guys weren’t dirty. I guess that goes back to Kanick’s original point about Neely- he didn’t need Probert or Kocur around like Yzerman did, he could hold his own, so long as he wasn’t getting blindsided by Ulf. That hit was one of the main reasons I hated those early 90’s Pens teams.

      Kanick- my father told me that Neely reminded him of Gordie Howe, since he was very good at racking up the “Gordie Howe hat trick” (goal, assist, fight). I never got to see Howe play but I took my Dad’s word for it, since he grew up in Detroit in the 50s watching Howe, Lindsay, Able, Sawchuk, et al.

      • like i mentioned above, never been a wings fan but always thought they were class. took care of their biz the right way. put it this way: if your ‘tough guy’ is visor-wearing turtler, you’re not doing it right.

        http://youtu.be/d08q4o4MWXM

        [in fairness, lemieux does better here. skip to 25 second mark.]
        http://youtu.be/lUVBts1_KJo?t=26s

        • Max

          those Wings-Avalanche donnybrooks of the mid-late 90’s were epic. In Michigan, some Wings fans still call the anniversary of the McCarty Lemieux fight “Turtle Day” and wish each other a “Happy Turtle Day”. Lemieux deserved all than and then some for what he did to Kris Draper (who was the personification of the term “grinder”, IMHO).

          Sad to see the shape McCarty is in now. I hope he gets the help he needs.

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