A couple of recent on-ice incidents got my attention. During a game between Toronto and New York, Maple Leafs forward Nazem Kadri lifted his right leg high in the air after getting bumped by Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi. Kadri went down, had his skate blade up, and got the back of the neck of Girardi. It wasn’t a deep cut but the incident took the steam out of the Air Canada Centre. The Flyers’ Luke Schenn had his head down when he was pushed into the boards by Avalanche forward Nathan McKinnon during a game. It was hardly a push on McKinnon’s part and Schenn put himself in a bad spot. But he went down and McKinnon got a 5-minute major and was kicked out of the game.
The recent acts by Kadri and Schenn trying to draw penalties through embellishment should be a lesson to young hockey players: diving can kill you or you can end up killing someone. Just ask Richard Zednik. In 2008, Zednik’s Panther teammate Olli Jokinen tried to draw a penalty by lifting his skate and inadvertently got the blade under the neck of Zednik. The cut Zednik suffered was more severe than Girardi’s. He had to be rushed to hospital and missed a considerable amount of time. Max Pacioretty is another example. The Canadiens forward got caught trying to get around the Bruins’ Zdeno Chara during a playoff game in 2011. But instead of getting out of the way, Pacioretty allowed himself to be drilled into the boards. Chara got ejected from the game and received some death threats from Habs fans.
Then there’s Steve Moore. I don’t have to repeat myself how his dive ended his career.
Diving happens in every sport. Players that do it are an embarrassment to the game. But it’s also dangerous particularly in hockey where you have skate blades, sticks, ice and boards that are solid as a rock to deal with. If this continues, one of these days a player will try to draw a penalty and it will end up getting someone killed. I understand it’s a competitive environment and you have to do what it takes to win. But is it really worth it to dive and risk endangering the lives of your opponents or teammates for a 2-minute power play? I can’t understand why players dive in the first place. Believe it or not, diving takes planning and practice. No one I know considers exaggerating an injury at the very last second. A lot of effort and energy is needed to dive. That could be better used to help improve a player’s ability to play hockey the right way.
Too bad there is no push to eliminate diving like there is with fighting. But I also believe people need to learn things the hard way in order for them to change their habits. Time will only tell if Kadri and Schenn will learn from their experience.
It appears that the saga that is Steve Moore vs. Todd Bertuzzi is coming to end. An out-of-court settlement has apparently been reached that will see Moore get millions of dollars for the injuries suffered at the hands of Bertuzzi. But what this really tells me is that if you are a perpetrator, provoke someone into retaliating, and play the victim card long enough, you can get very rich. Don’t ignore this, it is happening right now in our society.
Let’s get to the root cause. Moore, while playing for the Colorado Avalanche, took out Vancouver Canucks forward Markus Naslund with an elbow to the head during a game between the two teams. No penalty was given and no suspension was handed down. It was considered a clean hit. Really? A clean hit to me does not involve a direct path, taking a good 3 or 4 strides into the player. Had Moore own up to his hit on Naslund and the NHL subsequently suspended him, we would not be where we are today. Who knows how long Moore’s playing career would have lasted but he would have left the game on his own terms.
Moore, by the definition laid out by the politically-correct media, is a goon. He is a guy that should have been kicked out of hockey. He should have not be able to lace up his skates again. But he was allowed to continue to play. Later that season, Moore had his ass handed to him first, ironically, by Matt Cooke and later by Bertuzzi. Moore dropped the gloves and took his lumps from Cooke and delivered a few of his own. That should have been the end of it. No one could recall if Moore went after another Canucks player in that game but no one on the Canucks bench seemed satisfied with that result. Thus, Bertuzzi’s involvement in this and the incident that led to where we are now.
Then there’s the sucker punch that apparently ended Moore’s career. I don’t like to be a conspiracy theorist but doesn’t it appear that Bertuzzi’s punch was soft and that Moore embellished his fall to the ice? Moore easily went down like a ton of bricks and he is definitely not an easy guy to knock down. I would hazard to guess that Moore’s career-ending injury was due to getting crushed by the weight of Bertuzzi and the players piling on top of him, not from that sucker punch as many are led to believe.
People don’t realize that they are being played as fools especially Moore’s lawyer Tim Danson. Danson is too smart to get suckered into this but he did his job. He put Moore in the position where he is and there is not a heart in Canada that is not bleeding right now. I bet Paul Bernardo and Steve Williams are finding this amusing. No one should be shedding a tear for Moore. But as long as he continues to play the victim card, no one will even dare call him a goon.