Fans who descended on the United Center Wednesday night probably weren’t expecting WWE to show up. While there was a hockey game that eventually surfaced. The first two periods descended into a bunch of flying elbows and a classless low blow.
Now it shouldn’t come to a shock as anybody that the Vancouver Canucks are the most hated team in the NHL if not all of pro sports. There were a lot of the scrums that resulted after the whistle a majority were a result of Vancouver but not all of them. But the most glaring ones seemed to start because of a Vancouver player.
Vancouver is a team that tries to intimidate you. The Canucks are bullies and love to deliver cheap shots after the whistle whenever they have the opportunity. It started early and often. Alex Edler started it early when he tried to drive Andrew Shaw through the glass. After every whistle, it seemed like the Canucks were punching Patrick Kane in the head and knocking off his helmet. Of course, this attitude all starts with the head coach Alain Vigneault.
The nastiness really picked up later in the first period when Daniel Sedin decided to get into the act. As Duncan Keith cleared a puck out of the Hawks zone, he was hit in the head with a shoulder by Daniel Sedin. Now the Canucks might argue that Sedin was going at the chest but he made contact with the head and hit Keith after the play.
While Sedin’s hit was late and definitely should be reviewed, Keith’s hit was worst. Duncan Keith clearly targeted the head of Sedin. Keith may have said that the puck was in the air; but Keith raised his arms and elbowed Sedin in the head. There was no attempt to play the puck and he will be suspended. It was a terrible time to retaliate. Unfortunately for Keith, the hit was bad and there is no way you can say it does not deserve a suspension.
Now the question is how long will Keith be suspended for? Since Keith has a hearing with the league over the phone, the suspension will not be longer then five games. Keith is not a repeat offender; however, it was clearly a retaliatory hit and a target to the head. While I think Sedin should be suspended one game for targeting the head of Keith, there is a good chance he won’t be. I think being a first time offender will save Keith from receiving a five game suspension. It seems like three would be a good number and then maybe one more for it being a retaliatory hit and injuring Sedin on the play. An appropriate suspension would be three to four games for Keith. Now while I think Keith’s intent was not to injure Sedin but rather give him something to think about, you can not go after the head which is an absolute no in this era of hockey.
After the hit by Keith, the Canucks were making every attempt to try to eliminate Keith. After Keith was released from the penalty box, there were scrums after every whistle. Kevin Bieska kneed Duncan Keith in the head and Alex Burrows kneed Duncan Keith in the groin while they were grappling on the ground. It was another classless move by Burrows who infamously bit a Boston Bruin in the Stanley Cup finals last year.
While the Canucks complained last night after they lost. Some of it was warranted about Duncan Keith’s hit which was illegal and he will be suspended. Vigneault was correct when he said that the hit is “everything you’re trying to take out of the game”. However, maybe he should look in the mirror and realize that his team is the one that has been behind these hits in the past. Remember Raffi Torres hit on Brent Seabrook last year? Vigneault’s response then was it wasn’t illegal even though Torres obviously went for the head. You can’t be preaching one thing and then encouraging another. Perhaps we shouldn’t be taking an ethics lesson from a coach who has routinely encouraged his team to headhunt the best players on opposing teams.
The hit by Keith was wrong and will he will be justly suspended. But if the NHL is going to bring down the hammer on Keith then they need to take a look at the hit by Daniel Sedin and Alex Burrows. Maybe they don’t suspend Sedin because of the injury. How can you excuse the actions of Alex Burrows? The guy has no class and routinely goes after various body parts with random parts of his body. If he’s not biting fingers then apparently Burrows is willing to go after the family jewels of opposing players. If you don’t want to suspend Sedin fine but the NHL should suspend Burrows for his lack of class on the ice. If Keith gets 3-4 games, then Burrows should get 1 game for kneeing Keith in the groin. Last night featured hitting, physical battles, nastiness and plain old hate. It was nasty, ugly and fun to watch. It’s always fun to see two teams go at each other until someone gets hurt and starts to play dirty. Both sides were guilty of one or the other. And both sides deserve to see some punishment from last night.