NHL justice is different than it used to be. It used to be that if you pitchforked a guy, you were going to have to fight someone. Then somewhere along the line, we switched to employing pure thugs that fought each other for some reason, like that was righting wrongs. But, their roster spots have been largely shuttled out for more legitimate hockey players these days. And now, from what I can tell, the new method is that when one of your players gets hit in a borderline way, you get yourself on camera, and complain about how unfairly your team is treated.

It’s getting tiresome.

Yesterday’s brief fit by John Tortorella was just the latest in a long line of “The League” bombs dropped by a coach talking to a group of reporters. “It’ll be interesting to see what The League has to say about this.” “We’ll let The League handle it.” “I’m sure The League will be taking a look at it.”

Hint hint not so subtle hint, guys.

Of course, they don’t intend it to be subtle.

This is how coaches go about highlighting incidents that are likely not worthy of suspensions (suspendable plays are usually self-evident), but are still worthy of our sympathy…apparently. Every team in the League is really hard-done-by, you guys. “Sure, everybody’s allowed to take cheap shots on our guys, but if we do anything, we get suspended.”

I’m pretty sure Shanahan’s not playing any favourites.

It reminds me of children telling their parents “He started it,” like some how that would validate one brother hitting another in the head with a shovel. It’s trying to build up points for the next time your team is in hot water. “Yes, he took his skate off and tried to cut the guy, but remember when Orpik hit Stepan and got NOTHING? I’d say we’re all square.”

A lot of these coaches doing the complaining are tough men – in the Atlantic division, there’s about four coaches I wouldn’t want to tangle with (that’s right, I’d scrap DeBoer), and all four of those men have had a little media cry about a number of incidents this year. The bitching isn’t confined to the Atlantic, but I think they’re in the lead in TPMS, Tears Per Media Scrum.

I understand that with playoffs on the horizon that it made sense for Tortorella to petition the League to get Orpik suspended. He doesn’t want to see the Penguins down the road. But is it worth it if you have to be the guy implying others teams get all the privileges (“I wonder what would happen if we did that to one of their whiny stars”)?

As I mentioned in the title, it reminds of a crowd booing a no-call when one of their players goes down. Maybe, mayyybe a couple times a season you can trigger a ref to put the whistle to his lips (or in this case, the phone to Shanahan’s ear), but it’s just not worth representing yourself and your team like that.

I get being mad, and I like to hear guys speak out about it. But the constant appeals to the League for help after games has to go.

Comments (15)

  1. Amen times a million. Unfortunately for us though, those awful “The League will look at it” and “The League will handle it appropriately” lines are becoming incorporated more often into the typical hockey player interview lexicon. I fear every time someone is asked to comment on a controversial play of any degree, we’re going to be hearing this stuff more and more :(

  2. Note: I’m a Rangers fan….

    What are the coaches supposed to say when asked about a borderline hit by reporters? Say “No, it wasn’t worthy of a suspension”? Of course they’re not going to say that. Any time one of your players gets hit illegally, and especially when they get hurt, the coach is going to be pissed. He probably stepped over the line a little bit when calling out Crosby and Malkin though. I have no problem with coaches (or anybody) saying they hope the league takes a look at a specific play.

    On this specific hit, it probably isn’t worthy of a suspension. I would be in favor of Orpik at least getting a hearing so the hit was at least acknowledged by the league though. The hit was dirty. He stuck out his knee as a player was skating by him. It wasn’t a borderline hit.

    • excellent point

    • I’d agree with you on Malkin… Dude just plays hard. But Sidney has a history of being a cheap little … ahem … and I believe hasn’t so much as had his hand smacked.

      Yet, we do hear Sid quite a bit about the shots he takes. It’s probably THE reason I don’t like the guy. Yes, he’s a great player, but you watch all the dirty stuff that he pulls (and gets away with) and it’s kind of hard to gloss over that after a while.

  3. Great piece, Justin. Torts needs called out for that kind of nonsense. He went way over the line. And considering his guy Mike Rupp took out Jordan Staal’s knee not so long ago he comes off like a total hypocrite and a sore loser. I didn’t hear him whining then. Laviollete falls into the same category. He calls out the Pens for being “dirty” and yet his squad leads the league in all but one penalty category this season (including misconducts).

    • Good point, but I also don’t remember Bylsma going on a tirade like this one after the Rupp hit (cue the youtube clip that proves me wrong in 3… 2… 1…)

      Whining about dirty plays is one thing. Whining about other teams whining is just pathetic.

      • No, you’re right. Bylsma didn’t whine at all about it. I don’t have any problem with Torts calling out the Orpik hit, but his whole diatribe against Crosby/Geno/and the Pens organization as a whole was not only bush but completely unfounded. But this is a guy that throws water bottles at fans who heckle him and his post game whine fests are the norm. Torts is one of the most prolific whiners and excuse makers in the history of the game.

    • Rupp’s knee on Staal was totally accidental. He didn’t stick out his knee and catch someone skating by like Orpik did.. Staal was turning and Rupp was going for the puck.

  4. I’m not sure I agree here with your reaction to this situation. I feel like you are saying ‘This hit wasn’t as bad as he is making it out to be, so he shouldn’t be going to the media.’ Your opinion is that Orpik wasn’t really trying to go knee on knee, which I think there is an argument for. There’s also a lot of people saying it looked pretty intentional.

    If this is an instance of Tortorella and the Rangers making a situation out of a clean, direct hit, I think you are correct here, and he should keep his mouth shut. But it wasn’t a clean direct hit, and if you’re an NHL coach and there’s even a reasonable chance that a guy with a history targets one of your players and injures him, and then someone asks you about it, you of course will stand up for your guy. I think in this instance he has every right to call the play out to the media. The Crosby and Malkin stuff was unnecessary, but that it was overblown could be expected from Tortorella.

    I also don’t think Orpik is some celebrated game-breaking playoff performer that the Rangers want suspended so they don’t have to face him. Missing Crosby, Letang, or Malkin would obviously make a difference. But having Orpik gone probably won’t be the thing that knocks a team like the Pens out of the playoffs. There’s not much of a chance it will affect the Rangers either way.

    • I don’t think that’s what J is saying at all. I don’t think he’s arguing if it is or isn’t suspension worthy. I think he’s just saying that Torts doesn’t need to hem and haw in front of the media about it.

      By the way, if I’m Stepan, I’d be kinda annoyed that my teammates went on with the play after that. I mean, no one’s going to stand up for him after that? It’s not like Orpik is a heavyweight. At least get someone over there to give him a facewash or something…

      • The Rangers were on a power play, down a couple goals, with only a few minutes left. Nobody on the ice at the time could really afford a penalty, or to stop the play to get a whistle. Most of them were skill guys (Richards, Gaborik, etc). Richards did try to confront Orpik after the whistle I think. There were like 3 officials between them.

  5. Orpik doesn’t have the history of being a malicious player. BUT he does have a reputation of going for the big open ice hits. He went for one in this case and missed when Stepan cut back to the inside. But it WAS a bad hit and a fine or suspension would possibly be warranted.

    But it wasn’t just Barbarella whining about Sid and Geno, his whole diatribe against the Pens organization as a whole was also way over the line. It’s alright though. I hear alot of this stuff from rival fans, and yet I never hear any examples to justify it or back it up.

  6. Dude, Quenneville is absolutely pissed. That is one angry Q-Stache…

  7. So this doesn’t directly apply to coaches calling for penalties, but there’s a pretty interesting study done about refs having home team bias. Basically, show some football (soccer) refs a match, and randomize them to the match being shown regularly (ie full volume) and on mute (so they can’t hear the home crowd).

    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1469029201000334

    “Those viewing the challenges with background crowdnoise were more uncertain in their decision making and awarded significantly fewer fouls (15.5%) against the home team, compared with those watching in silence.”

    Some other studies address this as well ( see http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/02640410601038576 and http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0167487003000138 ).

    Interesting stuff, I think! … and just to clarify, this is a science nerd kinda thing, which is completely different from stat nerds.

  8. ‘Crying Wolf” one too many times defeats the purpose. IMO.

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