Sunday, 17 March 2013

Brad Marchand slashes Kris Letang out of the game

I watched the game between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Boston Bruins this morning, and Pittsburgh's All-Star defenceman Kris Letang was hit on the hand/wrist by a 'light slash' from (surprise surprise) Boston Bruin forward and irredeemable rat Brad Marchand.  I suspect he has a hand injury, and it could be a bad one if it hit an unprotected area.

Now in the context of the NHL, which specifically states in its rulebook that a 'light slash' is not slashing, it was par for the course and didn't merit a penalty.

61.1 Slashing - Slashing is the act of a player swinging his stick at an opponent, whether contact is made or not. Non-aggressive stick contact to the pant or front of the shin pads, should not be penalized as slashing. Any forceful or powerful chop with the stick on an opponent’s body, the opponent’s stick, or on or near the opponent’s hands that, in the judgment of the Referee, is not an attempt to play the puck, shall be penalized as slashing.

What Mr. Marchand did was not forceful or notably dirty in today's NHL, but it goes to show again how ludicrously the game is managed.  Brad Marchand was well behind Kris Letang, in no position to play the puck.  He was clearly beaten.  Mr. Letang had position on him.  Somehow, it it tolerated that the guy defending and without the puck  who is behind the play is allowed to whack at the player trying to make a play, score a goal, and entertain the fans and viewers at home.

Why is that?  The NFL doesn't allow a certain amount of holding or interfering with a receiver, or light tackling of a quarterback after he lets go of the ball.  The NBA doesn't allow a certain amount of incidental mugging of Lebron James.  Somehow, the NHL doesn't think it's in its best interests to showcase offence and its most talented players.

So here we are.  After Erik Karlsson, now Kris Letang, the most dynamic and entertaining remaining defenceman in the game, is knocked out of action by an illegal but tolerated play.  All because Don Cherry harrumphs "Let them play!" on Saturday evenings.

I agree with Don Cherry.  I think we should allow Kris Letang to play, and Erik Karlsson to play, by removing the Brad Marchands and the Matt Cookes from the game, or at least by forcing them to play hockey instead of mugging other more talented players.

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