Monday, November 26, 2007

Flyers cross the line again


"Lupul chipped the puck to that D-man and he went down low to block the puck. I thought it was going to get by him. I let up a bit and finished my check. I think he put himself in a vulnerable position. I definitely didn't intend to injure him.

"It wasn't deliberate; I didn't try to hurt him. I'm not that kind of player. If you look at the all games this year and past years, I'm a guy who finishes his check. He was close to boards. It wasn't like he was two or three feet from the boards. . . . I let up. It's unfortunate he stayed down."
I don't know what else to say.

UPDATE Hartnell received a two-game suspension.

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50 Comments:

At 11:42 PM, November 26, 2007, Blogger Art Vandelay said...

Cue the defence of the indefensible....

 
At 12:21 AM, November 27, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You can make a vaild case that bettman embolden the flyers to play like this since he insituted the instagator rule.

this is reason why players have zero respect for each other. It's because of one rule that bettman thinks that can hockey but it has made it worse.

it's time to throw the instagator rule out of hockey. nobody wants that rule in the game.

that play doesnt happen if their is no instgator rule

 
At 12:23 AM, November 27, 2007, Blogger dial613 said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 12:27 AM, November 27, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sickening; he didn't let up, despite Alberts being down already.

He stopped skating, sure, but he continued to crush Alberts' head into the boards with his upper body.

What did he think would happen?

Shameful and disgusting.

(and instigator shouldn't have anything do to with it, imo. Are you saying that a guy who thinks it's ok to pancake a helpless guy's head wouldn't do it if he thought someone were to come after him? I don't think so; if he's stupid enough to hit him like that in the first place, then he clearly isn't thinking of consequences when he does it.)

 
At 12:37 AM, November 27, 2007, Blogger PB said...

That's just incredible.

How do these guys sleep at night?

 
At 12:40 AM, November 27, 2007, Blogger Paul Nicholson said...

Hartnell should have at least attempted to pull up and it sure looks like he leaned in hard to finish his check. I'll buy that the Alberts was in a bad position - it was just stupid to go down like that - and I'll buy that some kind of collision was inevitable with Hartnell's momentum, etc...but it sure looks like he made no attempt to pull up at all.

 
At 12:52 AM, November 27, 2007, Blogger Hossim said...

There's no way you "finish a check" when your opponent is on the ground (or has his back to you). And there's no way that he "let up a bit" when he leaned into Albert's head as he approached the boards.

Letting up, Scotty boy, is turning away and not making the hit when the point of impact of your check is going to be at your opponents head.

Hope Alberts is ok; in Bergeron's press conference from a few weeks back he stated that he had a problem with bright lights for extended periods of time (10 minutes) and "walking a two hundred feet" without feeling dizzy.

 
At 1:17 AM, November 27, 2007, Blogger Adam C said...

that play doesnt happen if their is no instgator rule

You know, just because we've been having a discussion on the instigator rule, doesn't give you leeway to post something that stupid. If Boston can't retaliate because they're afraid of a two minute penalty when they're up by three, if Hartnell would otherwise be intimidated by the fear that he might have to sweater-wrestle some guy for 30 seconds...

Downie and Boulerice were idiots, and it was the Flyers' fault for employing them. I could write Jones off as a coincidence. This is too much. These guys are being sent out there with instructions to hurt people, and it's leading to risky hits and serious injuries.

It's past time to suspend the coach and punish the team.

 
At 1:23 AM, November 27, 2007, Blogger Steve Patterson said...

in my opinion that's worse than the bergeron hit. the bergeron hit was bad but it's severity was aided by the fact that bergeron turned into the boards on a split-second play. here, alberts' head was in a vulnerable position for at least a second while hartnell lined him up. he had more of an opportunity to let up than jones and still decided to ram his head into the boards.

that said, what are you going to do about it? suspend the guy as long as you want, it's not going to change anything, as 2 flyers have already received 20+ game suspensions that have clearly had no effect. you could suspend the guy for a year and you'd still see hits like that all the time because suspensions have no effect on the culture of the game. all you can do is remove the instigator and hope that over time respect is returned to the time of the pre-instigator days when headshots weren't part of the game.

and whoever suggested that the flyers are instructing their players to do this is an idiot or a bruins homer. nobody in their right mind would tell somebody to go and intentionally injure another team's player. what is the flyer's management supposed to do...dress a lineup full of sami kapanen and kimmo timmonens? they basically put boulerice under the bus when he pulled the crosscheck on kesler when most organizations would at least make a semi-defence of their player.

 
At 1:33 AM, November 27, 2007, Blogger Kevin said...

Jesus. Finishing a check my ass.

 
At 1:37 AM, November 27, 2007, Blogger Art Vandelay said...

...nobody in their right mind would tell somebody to go and intentionally injure another team's player....

If the Moore/Bertuzzi case ever gets aired in open court, we might hear some things that call your thesis into question.

...what is the flyer's management supposed to do...dress a lineup full of sami kapanen and kimmo timmonens?...

red herring.

...they basically put boulerice under the bus when he pulled the crosscheck on kesler...

Probably didn't take too long a conference call between Holmgren and Snider to decide that a camp walk-on with zero discernible talent could be sacrificed. It would have been more impressive if they'd waived Downie or even Jones.

 
At 1:42 AM, November 27, 2007, Anonymous S said...

First, I'm not condoning what Hartnell did. But if a player doesn't have respect for himself to make sure he's in a safe position, how much responsibility should his opponent have? I'm not making the victim a perpetrator, but if I walk in the middle of the street and get hit, how can I complain to the driver? Sure, he has to put on his brakes, but if I'm careless, what can you do?

James, I thought you were better than this. I'd expect this from the trash of TSN, but not you.

Is it hard to buy into sensationalism?

How many violent hits have their been this season? How many have been non-Flyer related on and garnered front page headlines?

I've seen a lot of hits on par or worse than anything the Flyers have done, but there doesn't seem to be the coverage of other teams' hits. Why is that?

I think the Flyers made a name for themselves early on this season, and it's their fault for putting themselves under the radar. But I also think that it's a chicken and the egg scenario.

Do the media scrutinize Flyers hits because they have a reputation, or do they have a reputation largely because of the media?

I don't believe that there weren't any other hits so far this season that wouldn't have warranted 10 game suspensions at least, yet the Flyers are all one hears about. Just from sheer ratios, something is a bit off.

The punishment system in the NHL is a joke because it's not uniform, and the media continues to produce cringe-worthy pieces that the public scrambles to eat more of. I don't get it.

I think we should remove hitting entirely from the game, and in it's place, we could all hold hands and sing. It would really make the game a lot more entertaining, and we'd all be a lot happier because no one's feathers would be ruffled.

 
At 1:48 AM, November 27, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not making the victim a perpetrator, but if I walk in the middle of the street and get hit, how can I complain to the driver?

You mean, like, when you're a pedestrian crossing the street?

Under whose definition of hockey does kneeing a guy's head into the boards qualify as A: good hockey and B: entertainment. Because if you can justify this hit you need to register your weapons, flush the 'roids and stay at least 100 yards away from me and my family.

 
At 1:52 AM, November 27, 2007, Anonymous noah said...

But if a player doesn't have respect for himself to make sure he's in a safe position, how much responsibility should his opponent have?

Exactly. Every guy on the ice should spend his whole shift turtled -- that way nothing can ever happen to him that might hurt him. As long as they do stupid things like skate after the puck, carry the puck, shoot the puck, block shots, etc., they're just putting themselves in dangerous positions and deserve to get concussed by other players just doing their jobs.

...I'm not making the victim a perpetrator, but if I walk in the middle of the street and get hit, how can I complain to the driver? Sure, he has to put on his brakes, but if I'm careless, what can you do?

Yeah, and if I lie down on the sidewalk and you come along and stomp on my head, then it's my fault for lying on the sidewalk.

 
At 1:58 AM, November 27, 2007, Anonymous S said...

I'm not arguing about whether the hit was right or wrong, I'm discussing why it is that every Flyers' hit is scrutinized when so many others aren't.

Because if you can justify this hit...

You even quoted the part where I said I'm not condoning, so I don't know what you're saying here. I didn't try to justify it, but I do wonder how much a player is responsible to themselves in this situation (hence the traffic reference and not putting yourself in danger).

You obviously can't be running around trying to avoid being hit, but I've also seen players put themselves in poor positions (and this extends to all hits). If you don't have respect for yourself, how can you expect an opponent to look out for you?

 
At 1:59 AM, November 27, 2007, Anonymous S said...

Noah-- have you ever heard of a slippery slope argument? If you haven't, you should check it out!

 
At 2:00 AM, November 27, 2007, Blogger Steve said...

A transcript of Scott Hartnell's thoughts leading up the incident:

"Oh, shit, he's down on his knees - if I finish this check, I'm going to flatten his head against the boards. And then Chara will re-arrange my face. No, wait - if Chara does that, he'll get a two minute minor for instigation! I can do whatever I want! Cry havoc and loose the dogs of head shots!"

Or, in the alternative:

". . ."

 
At 2:01 AM, November 27, 2007, Anonymous S said...

Also Noah-- you've met people that walk around stomping people's heads? That's crazy!

I know that cars drive in the street, but I didn't know that there are people that stomp heads. I'll make a mental note.

 
At 2:02 AM, November 27, 2007, Blogger Steve Patterson said...

again, a few responses...

there is a difference between saying something general like "lets get him" in the locker room and saying something specific like "go and ram so and so's head into the boards." that's why moore's lawsuit might succeed for damages against bertuzzi but is almost certain to fail against the canucks...there's not a strong enough link of causation established. the former is probably said by every hockey team at some point, while the latter is criminal.

here, i don't even think something along the lines of a "lets get 'em" was uttered. what was the motive in hartnell's hit tonight? it was a terrible hit that deserves a suspension but it wasn't premeditated at all.

and are all teams supposed to waive their players after they get suspended? who in their right mind would waive their first round draft pick after their first pre-season with the team? or a defenceman after receiving a two-game suspension? i've yet to hear any credible responses that would solve what's happening. fine a multi-million dollar club? suspend the coach? take away draft picks? does anyone actually believe any of that would change anything? and i don't see the red herring either...you can't make a rule saying that the bruins can dress milan lucic and jeremy reich and the flyers can't dress anybody to counter. all i hear is a bunch of revulsion and no solutions.

 
At 2:03 AM, November 27, 2007, Blogger S said...

Steve-- I hardly believe that a 5 minute major penalty is comparable to a 2 minute instigator.

Plus the only thing Chara was re-arranging was himself after Scottie Upshall floored him. (No need to mention the height/weight difference there). Hopefully Upshall will get a suspension too.

But you made one mistake: you'd assume that Hartnell could think, or think quickly. WRONG.

 
At 2:05 AM, November 27, 2007, Anonymous noah said...

S, you've seen understood my point exactly -- as soon as you say it's the victim's fault for making a hockey play and having his head driven into the boards as a result (by a guy who had a full second in which to decide _not_ to drive his head into the boards), you're on a very slippery slope.

 
At 2:06 AM, November 27, 2007, Blogger Steve said...

On other notes less directly-related to making fun of the twits who think that all real hockey fans like fighting and that the instigator rule is what made guys like Hartnell stupid enough to pull this shit:

1. I seriously doubt that the Flyers are telling their players to go out and do stupid things to hurt their opponents. But the Flyers do seem to be loading up on players who are less than proactive in the all-important field of not doing stupid things to hurt their opponents. I suspect it's a personnel thing - they tend to like dirty players - rather than a coaching thing.

2. I seriously think that if the league hands out, say, a dozen twenty game suspensions this season (for a player's first offense - double it for each succeeding offense) you're going to see this kind of thing happen less frequently. What's required is consistency, and that means punishing stuff that could have resulted (but didn't) in a head injury as well. Eventually, players will adapt - even if it takes a generation to do so.

 
At 2:09 AM, November 27, 2007, Blogger Steve said...

I hardly believe that a 5 minute major penalty is comparable to a 2 minute instigator.

Sorry, I don't see what you're getting at.

But you made one mistake: you'd assume that Hartnell could think, or think quickly. WRONG.

Actually, I didn't make that mistake - note my second hypothesis of what he was thinking.

 
At 2:10 AM, November 27, 2007, Anonymous S said...

Noah-- I never said it was the victim's fault. But I do understand that the issue is divided amongst the people that will defend it by saying that, and the ones that want a 829358245935896 game suspension.

Which, in itself, is a slippery slope.

 
At 2:10 AM, November 27, 2007, Anonymous noah said...

S, have you met people who walk around slamming people's heads? That's crazy!

Oh, wait a minute. Have you met Scottie Hartnell?

 
At 2:12 AM, November 27, 2007, Anonymous S said...

I hardly believe that a 5 minute major penalty is comparable to a 2 minute instigator.

You implied (if I understood) that Hartnell thought he could get away with anything because Chara would get a 2 minute instigator? That doesn't make sense.

 
At 2:14 AM, November 27, 2007, Anonymous S said...

Noah-- I have met some head slammers. And I can tell you that you're probably better off if you avoid those kinds of situations.

 
At 2:23 AM, November 27, 2007, Anonymous noah said...

The issue is not the length of Hartnell's suspension. The issue is changing hockey so that when one guy sees another guy in a vulnerable position, he lets up.

When a guy does something like this he can argue that it's his job on the team, that he needs to finish his check to stay in the NHL, whatever. Of course this doesn't absolve the guy who makes the hit, but these factors can't be overlooked. That's part of the problem.

However it's done, somehow the game has to change so that players aren't crushing each others' heads. Personally I don't care what they do to each others' knees, shoulders, etc. But I think somebody's going to get seriously, permanently debilitated or killed due to a blow to the head, and that's really going to suck.

 
At 2:23 AM, November 27, 2007, Blogger James Mirtle said...

James, I thought you were better than this. I'd expect this from the trash of TSN, but not you.

By posting a YouTube video?

Hey, I just put up here whatever I find interesting, and the fact that we're going to have four Flyers suspended in two months certainly qualifies.

I'm not a news organization, providing equal coverage of the entire league.

 
At 3:10 AM, November 27, 2007, Anonymous Rod said...

Dumb play by Alberts to drop down to his knees. Dumber play, as in no excuse for it, by Hartnell. There was plenty of time to react or adjust for Alberts being so low. Steve Patterson nailed it when he commented above that this hit was worse than Jones on Bergeron.

Finished a check? Only if slamming an opponent's head into the top of the boards counts as a check...especially when the opponent isn't even moving anywhere. Alberts had dropped to his knees long before Hartnell was close to him. Exactly where was Alberts going that necessitated a hit by Hartnell?

Dangerous head shot by Hartnell. Long suspension warranted. Clearly.

 
At 4:11 AM, November 27, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why not make the suspension count against the number of bodies a team can dress in a game? As in, for the duration of Hartnell's suspension, the Flyers can only dress 17 skaters (or 1 less than whatever the limit is right now).

 
At 7:15 AM, November 27, 2007, Blogger Bruce said...

I'm not arguing about whether the hit was right or wrong, I'm discussing why it is that every Flyers' hit is scrutinized when so many others aren't.

I think that every hit which results in a guy laying unconscious on the ice and being carried off on a stretcher gets scrutinized. Which seems to be a hell of a lot of Flyers' hits so far this season. (Three by my count ... Kesler got up.)

This hit reminded me a little of Steve Moore on Naslund, the one that enraged Bertuzzi in the first place. On that occasion Naslund was down on his knees and Moore hipchecked him in the head. Not from behind, not into the boards, and Naslund still got a (mild)concussion. It was a cheap shot, and Vancouver's outrage was justifiable, even if their actions were not.

I've always liked Scott Hartnell as a player, but this one's worth at least 10 games in my book. And as repeat repeat repeat offenders, I'd love to see the Flyers get fined about $500,000. This shit has got to stop.

 
At 9:23 AM, November 27, 2007, Blogger Adam C said...

Just to clarify what I said a-way up above:

It seems very likely to me that the Flyers are being sent out with instructions to finish their checks at all costs. Instructions to hurt (i.e. cause pain to) their opponents wherever possible. Unfortunately this is leading to wildly reckless hits like Downie, like Jones, and like Hartnell; and serious injuries instead of just bruises.

Those who are all in favour of "accountability and respect" among players should be all in favour of seeing a suspension for the coach.

 
At 9:33 AM, November 27, 2007, Blogger Chemmy said...

These suspensions need to start getting a lot longer for a repeat offender team like Philly.

Losing a player like Hartnell for 30 games would probably remind Philly that you don't need to hit people from behind or slam people's heads into the boards to win a hockey game.

 
At 10:03 AM, November 27, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gutless

 
At 10:45 AM, November 27, 2007, Blogger matt said...

In this situation you don't finish the check. Period.

 
At 11:00 AM, November 27, 2007, Blogger Chemmy said...

I agree matt, even if his momentum were so great that he couldn't possibly stop (which I don't believe), you can open up your body and not plow Alberts' head into the glass.

 
At 11:29 AM, November 27, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How come they don't start fining the coach and the organization for ever game they suspend a Flyer. These kind of hits would stop pretty quick. Say 250k per game for the organization, and then something else for the coach.

 
At 12:39 PM, November 27, 2007, Anonymous Keith said...

While I agree with your sentiment, Chemmy, I don't think you can throw the book at Harnell to send the Flyers a message.

This is a case where the team should face a major fine, and, perhaps in the next CBA, face the loss of draft picks.

Also, I think the NHLPA itself needs to be held to task regarding plays like this. How many times do players have to deliberately injure eachother before the union itself takes a leadership role in promoting respect between members?

 
At 12:46 PM, November 27, 2007, Blogger mike said...

With an ex-goon named Holmgren following a dirty and unsportsmanlike player like Clarke in the GM slot for the NHL's most violent team, why is anyone surprised by the continuation of this conduct by the Flyers?

Retribution is coming fast for the Flyers, and it will feature Briere or Gagne in the role of the sprawled-out skater...but don't worry, Flyer fans--your medical staff will have 'em cleared to play again in no time at all....even before they're fit to play.

 
At 1:11 PM, November 27, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

All this crying about the Flyers being targeted. If you are on a witch hunt and you find a witch what's the problem? If it smells like Bobby Clarke, acts like Bobby Clarke and looks like Bobby Clarke then you just have to admit it is Paul Holmgrem.

 
At 1:15 PM, November 27, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I despise the instigator rule, but this is one case where it doesn't make a difference. This is about the lack of respect some players have for each other and the organizations that promote disregard for fellow players.

Hartnells' hit wasn't intentional in the sense he was being a cheap shot artist. If that were the case the instigator rule would help prevent this type of act. Instead this is an organizational mentality that you never let up on an opponent and you cherish inflicting harm as part of the some Broadstreet Neanderthal code.

 
At 3:10 PM, November 27, 2007, Blogger Menzies said...

Why not make the suspension count against the number of bodies a team can dress in a game? As in, for the duration of Hartnell's suspension, the Flyers can only dress 17 skaters (or 1 less than whatever the limit is right now).

I like that idea. Like a red card to the team or something. Why not?

...but don't worry, Flyer fans--your medical staff will have 'em cleared to play again in no time at all....even before they're fit to play.

Exactly. Hilarious.

I think the whole argument of 'oh, he put himself in a bad position' doesn't hold alot of weight. It's a sport. You do things to help your team. Maybe dropping to his knees opened himself up to the potential for injury, but that's what wins games. We don't whine about someone playing with a broken finger, we salute them. Ridiculous to suggest a guy going the extra mile to help keep the puck in the neutral zone should be chastised for making a stupid play.

If he pulled a Leafs #24 and just let the puck get passed him, and Hartnell got to the puck and set up one of his line mates for a goal, the same people criticizing Alberts for putting himself in a compromised position would later be stringing him up for not playing a team game. The honus was on Hartnell to not finish his check. His exact words were "I finished the check." Not cool. If a check is an act to seperate the skater from control of the puck, then being on your knees suggests you are seperated from the puck, or at the very least are not skating.

"They who have put out the people's eyes, reproach them for their blindness" John Milton

 
At 3:14 PM, November 27, 2007, Blogger Chemmy said...

You know what a good solution is? Levy fines for repeat offenders (seriously every time you hear about a bad hit someone from Philly is involved) and make it count against the salary cap next season.

Three or four $250,000 fines start to look really ugly when you could have spent that on players.

 
At 5:42 PM, November 27, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Meh, if you're throwing out random suggestions for penalties you should make ones which will hurt. $250k might be painful, but fining MLSE or most organizations 250k isn't exactly doing much, but if you penalized next year's salary cap by that amount...

As for the hit... checking someone while they are not competing for the puck, and out of the way... i.e. down, is stupid. Not just for the injury risk, but because that's a 2 second chance for a 5 on 4 advantage or a rush. Hockey is a fast game, players should take advantage of every chance they get.

 
At 7:08 PM, November 27, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I did not see this live, and I am just speculating, but he was what? A stride? A stride and a half? from a career-ending hit. Or a season ending hit. Sheer speculation of course.
Less speculative: One of these hits will result in a lawsuit (Moore et al) against the NHL, and the lengthy debate here (is this a pattern? Is it the victims fault?) will be played out in a court of law.
I'm not a lawyer - don't even play one on TV - but I can forecast the loser: amateur hockey. Parents, in droves, will leave the expensive sport whose player's union and professional owners allow repeated head injuries as a matter of doing business. The NHL, if found negligent... well, I'm verging back into the realm of wild speculation.

 
At 10:46 PM, November 27, 2007, Blogger Steve Patterson said...

in response to the lawsuit question, as a law student who has studied a bit of sports law, i can tell you that you have nothing to worry about. courts have been very reluctant to hold players liable for violent acts in hockey because players consent to a certain level of danger when they go on the ice. it's only when the play in question goes so far over what could be reasonably foreseen on the ice (ie: mcsorely, bertuzzi, maki v. green from way back) that the courts will intervene. things like the downie, hartnell, even boulerice hits, basically, have zero chance of ever getting anything from a court because they were reactionary plays that are seen repeatedly every season instead of premeditated acts that nobody would ever expect.

 
At 2:27 PM, November 28, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

@Steve, thanks for your intelligent and well informed comment.
Sadly, I do not share your optimism about the outcome. My worries do not hinge on if this case is win-able or even viable in the courts; the ESPN ticker (lower screen crawl) that reads "Player X, the fifth player injured by employees in the Flyers organization, sues NHL & Flyers". Damage done, at least in the court of public opinion. Yes, perhaps the Flyers and/or NHL will prevail in the "reasonable risk with consent" argument, but the damage done as the plaintiff describes repeated on-ice assaults... well, most parents will say "This is what I want my child to aspire to??". If the Flyers win several months later, so what?

 
At 5:26 PM, November 28, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Any time you dress for the Flyers you can be sure that the medical staff has put them in a "bad position."

 
At 6:10 PM, November 28, 2007, Anonymous cupster33 said...

Some of you are saying alberts shouldn't have gone down like that, did anybody notice that he went down to keep the puck from going past him (which smart D men do)hartnell has been playing long enough to understand why a player is doing this sadly hartnell chose to still finish his check when alberts had his head against the boards.

 

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