It can be little cheap stuff like Milan Lucic spearing Alexei Emelin in the groin, and again, and later on that season uttering death threats in a handshake line after getting eliminated by the Habs. Cheap stuff like the entirety of Shawn Thornton's oeuvre, but specifically memorable incidents like him squirting water from the bench at P.K. Subban on the ice during play, with full video evidence, yet still being allowed to remain in the game, laughing like a baboon from the bench, as if he'd figured out hockey.
Even when it's 'fair play', two players squaring off, we come out losing in the exchange. Milan Lucic basically ended Mike Komisarek, owned him in two titanic fights that should have been evenly matched based on the tale of the tape, but which ended badly for our boy. The same Milan Lucic wrecked Alexei Emelin's knee when the latter tried to punish him with a bodycheck along the boards. Why is it our guy that gets injured here, and not the Bruins'? Shouldn't it be 50-50? It's a man's game, stuff happens, you never know, all that jazz. Except it's never 'you never know', you always know, it's us who'll end up with the short end of the stick. We'll get injured or embarrassed, and they won't get suspended. Ever.
Hence my admitted Bruins issues, I feel anxious when we play them, on the verge of righteous indignation, premonitiously, ready to kneejerk freak out at the drop of a hat. Or a Bleu-Blanc-Rouge.
But it's not just Bruins that prey on us. We've been pigeonholed as a small, skilled team for a long time now, along with being dirty, refusing to face up to the music man-to-man, but running away and using stickwork behind the play. We dive, we embellish. We're french guys and Europeans who wear visors, we can't take it. So when Ryan Malone knocks Chris Campoli senseless, or Eric Gryba knocks Lars Eller senseless, or Chris Kreider strategiccidentally slides skates-first into Carey Price, the league kind of shrugs and wonders, "Well, what do they expect? They had it coming."
When Derek Dorsett knee-on-knees David Desharnais, it's a hockey play, what talking heads have taken to calling a 'reactionary play', however ugly and misapplied that term is. He was going to get beat, and couldn't very well just let his more agile opponent skate by, he had to reach out with a knee or elbow or stick or something. He had to do something, anything. It was a reflex. As Nick Kypreos advocates, he had to "let him know he's there", however that's accomplished. Derek Dorsett isn't a goon who can't skate and can't keep up with the talented players on the ice, he's a "gritty fourth-liner". One that the Canucks were only too happy to obtain in a trade this summer, to keep up with the arms race in the Western Conference, and begin to dish out the treatment they've endured for a couple of years now.
So I'm forcibly converted, co-opted, I salute and goose-step along with the rest of the Viennese crowd. I champion the drafting of largerer prospects, not just the decently-sized; we need to boost our size profile in the system. 5'11" 190 pounders won't do. I squawk when we draft Arturri Lehkonen, Sven Andrighetto, and Martin Reway in the same year, to add to our collection of undersized forwards of Charles Hudon and Patrick Holland and Sebastian Collberg. They're more ice for the Inuit.
I make the point that they're not 'finds' or 'steals' or 'diamonds in the rough' or 'homerun swings' or 'boom or bust' picks, they're not players that other teams failed to notice and will rue not picking later on, but rather players that other teams deliberately overlook, leave off their draft board entirely. They're the Underwood in a modern office, useless. They're the Vernier caliper or lemon zester in your carpentry kit, completely unnecessary, misapplied. Other teams make the conscious decision to draft for size and strength at the expense of skill with the puck and speed and agility, since when the playoffs roll around, these players will wilt, if they're not already out with injuries by the time the referees put their whistles away for summer storage.
When hulking Mike McCarron cruises around the ice bashing prospective Bruin bodycheckers into their own goalies, I rejoice briefly, but shortly after accept my fate when he gets chopped down on a rush to the net and is injured. It's the natural order of things. The Circle of Life. I make excuses for the opponent. That Warsofsky kid is completely overmatched physically, he's just trying to protect his goalie, he was only trying to show his coaches that he can play at this level. Can't blame him.
And when 6'6" Jarred Tinordi catches Nate Schmidt flush with his shoulder, knocking him out, and has to answer the bell against supposed-tough guy Chris Brown and embarrasses him, I can't even enjoy it, I'm already thinking that this won't do, the league will crack down. What's the Canadiens player thinking, using his greater size and strength to dole out a perfectly clean hit and lay out an opponent? Does he think his father Mark works at the NHL head office, and will fix this whole mess for him? Who does he think he is, Zdeno Chara?
When Mr. Chara hits someone, we have to assume the best, 'he's not that type of guy, that type of player', we're told. It's explained that it's not his fault he's so big and strong, that his arms are at head-height for most of the players in the league. We're not supposed to consider the backstory of his on-ice assaults. He didn't know where he was on the ice, it's explained, or the player who was racing by him. There was no premeditation, it was just an unhappy coincidence.
When Milan Lucic spears and wreaks havoc, they're love-taps, not really intended to cause any harm. He's not out to castrate, we're assured, it's just that he's an emotional guy, he gets jacked up for the hated rivals. It's the kind of thing that happens on the ice. Why, in the fourties, Eddie Shore took out someone's eye, we should take Mr. Lucic's spears in context. Analysts laugh off this behaviour as tomfoolery, as a lovable imp getting caught near the empty cookie jar again. "What are you going to do?" they shrug, chuckling at his delightful mischief.
But Jarred, wearing bleu-blanc-rouge as he does, gets no doucheplomatic immunity. I get to my newsarator to check if he'll receive supplementary discipline, and this is the headline that pops up first.
Nate Schmidt Gets Elbowed Violently in the Head by Jarred TinordiEven though the elbow played no part whatsoever in this legal hit.
I know the Four Noble Truths of the Buddha. I know agony is born of desire. I shouldn't expect, by now, that the Canadiens will get a fair shake at the league office or in the court of public opinion, chaired as it is by Nick Kypreos and Don Cherry and Mike Milbury. I read "Animal Farm", I know some are more equal than others, and that the pigs end up running things.