Sunday, October 28, 2007

The Bergeron hit
A teammate's perspective

“Every coach expects you to finish your check. But [Jones] has to realize when guys are vulnerable. [Bergeron] wasn't in a position to score. He was keeping the puck in [after it had been dumped behind the Boston net].”
“Look at the number of guys who have played eight, nine, 10 years and have never had an incident like that. Even in the heat of the game, you have time to make decisions. That's what we're good at – thinking quickly.”
Ference is a hard-nosed defenceman, a guy who has put up some big penalty minutes and laid big hits throughout his eight-year career. As far as I can discern, he's never been suspended.

Granted, he's talking about a teammate here, so sure there's some bias, but I don't think that's the issue. Even Randy Jones has said it was an illegal hit, one he regrets making — and that's a good thing.

Step 2 is getting to the point where that pivotal moment doesn't result in a star player's head crushed along the boards. Patrice Bergeron's a significant part of the NHL's ridiculous youth movement at the moment, and his concussion could have easily been Patrick Kane's or Andrew Cogliano's or any of the game's other burgeoning stars.

We can't blame a potentially career-ending hit that occurs on a routine play on the victim.

That's lunacy.

13 Comments:

At 12:20 AM, October 29, 2007, Anonymous S said...

So by the same logic, it would also be impossible to judge Jones harshly on what was a "routine" hit?

Those jumping the gun and comparing this to the other Philly hits are completely off the mark.

And btw... where was the media when Volchenkov hit booth, or Rypien hit Roy, or Kovalev hit Malkin? I don't want to say the Flyers are being victimized because that sounds extreme, but why aren't there more suspensions being handed out, when other plays are just as bad?

 
At 12:21 AM, October 29, 2007, Blogger J. Michael Neal said...

On a completely different subject, since I said my piece on this one in the other thread, Valtteri Filppula's hot streak since you pointed out his lack of contribution continued tonight. Could you do my team a favor and criticize Tomas Kopecky, too? I figure Dallas Drake is a lost cause.

 
At 12:25 AM, October 29, 2007, Blogger J. Michael Neal said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 12:26 AM, October 29, 2007, Blogger J. Michael Neal said...

So by the same logic, it would also be impossible to judge Jones harshly on what was a "routine" hit?

You have misread what James wrote. He did not say that it was a routine hit. He said that it was a routine play. Jones, through what was, at best, gross carelessness, turned a routine play into a dirty hit.

I'm sure that, if I tried, I could nest some more subordinate clauses into that last sentence.

 
At 1:31 AM, October 29, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love how none of these hits matter unless they involve the Flyers.

 
At 1:33 AM, October 29, 2007, Blogger James Mirtle said...

And btw... where was the media when Volchenkov hit booth, or Rypien hit Roy, or Kovalev hit Malkin? I don't want to say the Flyers are being victimized because that sounds extreme, but why aren't there more suspensions being handed out, when other plays are just as bad?

This is a solid point; I'd like to put together something detailing all of the incidents, if possible, and make more of a blanket statement.

But you're absolutely right: It's bizarre which dangerous hits get the attention when others go by unnoticed. The fact this one was on a star player who was seriously hurt certainly increases the likelihood it becomes more widely known.

 
At 1:41 AM, October 29, 2007, Blogger sager said...

This isn't a comment one way or the other on John Stevens, but when does the league start suspending the coaches

Baseball had a rule that the manager could be run if his pitcher tried to bean a batter. If a team racks up a certain number of man-games in suspensions, make 'em play without the coach.

 
At 8:23 AM, October 29, 2007, Anonymous Rachael said...

Sager - I agree, although I think it should be the organization as a whole, not just the coach. If teams started getting huge fines for each suspension there would be a crackdown on these dirty plays stemming right from the top.

S - considering this is the third dirty hit in just over a month that has been delivered by a Flyer, you shouldn't be surprised.

Quick question: were all three of these guys drafted by Bobby Clarke?

 
At 10:14 AM, October 29, 2007, Blogger Darrell said...

The Volchenkov hit was VERY different. Volchenkov had his hands on Booths side as they slowly headed towards the boards. Booth then turns his body, putting his back in front of Volchenkov, who then hits him (and not too hard). I don't think Volchenkov had time to stop after Booth turned. The Jones hit had Bergeron with his back to Jones the entire time, and it occurred at a much higher speed.

 
At 10:39 AM, October 29, 2007, Anonymous Gerald said...

Ference's comments are outstanding, although I am sure they will be dismissed by the usual suspects as biased, hypocritical and other such blather. From my perspective they are balanced and raise the larger issue that needs to be raised.

At the end of the day, the big hit has become the hockey equivalent of the dunk in basketball. It is what will get you on the highlight reels. It is contributed to in great measure by a certain commentator who has a national forum every week through which he flogs the agenda which drives - most importantly to him - his DVD sales.

The question really is: does your NHL need to include plays which put the players at risk?

 
At 12:21 PM, October 29, 2007, Anonymous Jennifer said...

"We can't blame a potentially career-ending hit that occurs on a routine play on the victim."

FINALLY. Thank you James. I'm so sick of hearing Grapes and every other hockey commentator saying that the guy who got hit did something wrong. It's the guys that are doing the illegal hits that need to be come down on hard. It's stupid and unnecessary and potentially life-threatening. I'm all for hard hits as long as they're legal and clean.

 
At 12:36 PM, October 29, 2007, Anonymous baroque said...

Very fair comments from Ference, which basically boil down to one thing--THINK! If more guys would think before they hit someone, there would be a lot fewer of these incidents. They are expected to think quickly when pinching along the boards, passing, shooting, blocking a shot; it's stupid to absolve them from thinking when they go to hit someone.

The guys who think and still believe this is a good idea-throw the book at them (a really big, thick, painful book).

 
At 1:49 PM, October 29, 2007, Anonymous Dennis said...

I don't blame the victim at all, but last I looked, hockey was a pretty fast game. Sure, it's a major penalty and probably will be a suspension, but to say this is part of a pattern with the Flyers or to compare it to the inexcusable Downie and Boulerice hits is a bit of a stretch. Two players pursue a loose puck to the boards, the offensive player gets there first sweeping the puck away, while, head down, turning his body into the defensive player, who then finishes his check, catching the first player in an awkward position, all in the space of what, half a second?

A hit from behind is a hit from behind and has to be penalized as such and I'm all for holding players responsible for their actions regardless of intent. But Jones does not leave his feet, skate the length of the ice, come up with an elbow or a stick to the head or anything else of that nature, nor does he have any history as a dirty player that I am aware of. Hold him accountable for this by all means, but don't compare him to Downie and Boulerice.

Again, not to justify this in any way but was there any outrage around the league when Bergeron was making the hits on this YouTube clip? A hit from behind into the boards and a submarine shot to the knees, both well after the play and completely unnecessary and avoidable and both apparently ended the seasons of the players that were hit. Was Bergeron ever suspended?

http://youtube.com/watch?v=YVexsGtMJI0

If Jones got to the puck first, Bergeron no doubt nails him then gets lauded for being a scorer who plays "physical" and this isn't a story or a suspension, probably isn't even a penalty. But I'm sure we'd hear a lot from the "Clean Hit Chorus."...

 

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