Hockey player makes kid’s day. [video]This.
Yeah, I’m in love with Charlie Coyle.
Last night the Maple Leafs and the Wild battled to a 2-1 shootout Wild victory in a chippy, gritty game that was almost exactly what you want to see in a rivalry game. A big stain on the game, however, was Nazem Kadri and his behavior that warranted him a meeting with Brendan Shanahan this afternoon to discuss suspension.
It started in the first period when he absolutely plowed into goaltender Nicklas Backstrom when it was entirely unnecessary and threw in an extra elbow-to-the-head just for fun. That’s definitely a kind of hit that cannot be in the game. Everybody who’s ever seen a hockey game knows that you don’t hit a goalie, and you certainly don’t go out of your way to do it. It was absolute trash, and he deserved to get punished for it. Backstrom left the game shortly thereafter and is not practicing today due to an undisclosed “upper-body injury.”
However, no Wild player stepped up in the moment, and we had to content ourselves with Kadri being sent to the box for a while. But later, he came back and started throwing more dirty hits, notably one on Nino Niederreiter. El Nino tried to stand up for himself, shoving and trying to engage a fight, but referees broke it up and it came to naught.
The game progressed as a physical affair, which is to be expected, but the real icing on the cake came in the third where once again Kadri was on the giving end of a dirty hit. He crashed Mikael Granlund’s head into the boards dangerously, finally earning him an ejection from the referees—still no fight.
(Here’s a link to GIFs of both hits: http://www.sportingnews.com/nhl/story/2013-11-13/nazem-kadri-elbows-injured-josh-harding-gif?eadid=SOC/Twi/SNMain)
No one will ever know what would have happened had somebody in the game stepped up and given Kadri an old-fashioned lesson after the hit on Backstrom. There’s no doubt that he deserved it, however. Officials eventually ejected him, but not before he had the opportunity to injury at least two other good players. This is a perfect example of what happens when a player goes “rogue” and isn’t reminded that he’s playing a sport with a code. Remove fighting from the NHL, and incidences like Kadri’s intent to kill are going to happen more and more often. If you don’t want to see skill players and goalies get pummeled by an idiot, keep fighting in the game and let the boys police themselves to some degree. No matter how hefty of a suspension Nazem Kadri receives from Shanahan today, it would not have protected Nino or Granlund (who, by the way, is also not practicing today—reasons undisclosed). The refs did not protect them. Maybe a good ass-whooping would have.
PS: I realize that Wild players were not restrained from fighting Kadri at any point; that was a choice by them to stay out of it. I do not respect that choice. Bad Wild.