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Monday, October 4, 2010

Two Blind Mice

So as you can tell, and if you even care, I have been away from the blog for awhile.  My fiance and I took our yearly vacation to Traverse City a couple of weeks ago.  I went to see the famed Traverse City Prospect Tournament hosted by the Red Wings, as well as the Wings training camp, and my fiance went to inspect the northern wine country and make sure, through several samplings, that they had not been slacking off.

Once our duties there were complete (and all the winery tasting rooms empty), we returned, started settling back into work, and I started looking for something to catch my eye, hockey-wise.  While the prospect tourney and training camp were great, they had been done to death by other bloggers, ones with actual talent and access to the players.  I considered doing a season preview of the 30 NHL teams, but again ESPN, THN, TSN, A2Y and even HSN and HGTV had taken a shot at those.

Mike Cammellari
So my search continued on, through "knee-on-thigh" hits (cringe, Franzen, cringe), the Oilers new holy trinity, my fantasy hockey draft, and the typical prognostications of who will and won't be making an NHL lineup this season, until I ran into a debacle in the making on Saturday.

According to TSN, Mike Cammellari was suspended one (1) NHL game for chopping at the foot of the Islanders rookie Nino Niederreiter.  Of course after hearing about this horrific display of the disregard for human life, I rushed right over to the computer to see what the youtubers had dug up for me.

I first saw the video of Cammellari going bananas, taking runs at Nino and even slashing at his face, before slashing the back of Niederreiter's skate and being ejected for it.

Ok, looks like an egregious enough offense to warrant a suspension.  But life doesn't happen in a vacuum, and guys like Cammellari (all 180lbs of him) don't go off half cocked for no reason.  There had been comments made by some of the Montreal bench that Nino had taken some runs at players, including Cammellari, and after I looked for a little while I found a video showing a possible example of one of those incidents.

I know many will disagree with me, but its my blog and I'll bitch if I want to.  This looks to me like a blind side hit from Nino delivered on Cammellari, with possibly even an attempt to make contact with his head.  Now, if my recollection serves me, during the whirl-wind summer that was the NHL off season, both blind side hits and head hits were made illegal (even though they already were).
Nino Niederreiter

Whether or not you agree with me on Niederreiter's intent or not, you must be able to see that something is missing in both of these videos.  Can you spot it?   I'll give you a few seconds to study since I didn't warn you there was going to be a quiz ...........

Got it?  No, that's a dumb answer.  I can't believe you said that out loud.  The correct answer is: where are the refs?  In the initial incident, with Nino hitting Mike, there could have easily been a call for a blind side hit, which would have ended this incident there.

But say the ref doesn't believe it was bad enough to make the call.  Well, we then fast forward to Cammellari's tantrum.  First there is the crosscheck/interference along the boards.  Not calling that one? Ok, how about the blatant slash to the face?  Just a flesh wound you say?  Alright then how about the continued harrasing with crosschecks in the middle of the ice?  Boys will be boys?  Then that leads us to the infamous slash to the back of tha skate which actually injures Niederreiter, hopefully not seriously.

My slightly amusing, possibly obnoxious, rant has a point.  At any time during this incident, the refs could have put an end to this.  Right or wrong, Cammellari obviously felt liberties had been taken by Nino, and he had to defend himself.  His actions prior to the slash were unconscionable, yet no ref saw fit to stop it even then.  The officials waited until someone was hurt until they decided enough was enough.  If the refs had simply done their job once during this entire mess, simply said to themselves "hey, this looks like a bad situation.  I should do something", an injury to a talented rookie could have been completely avoided.

This scenario has played out time and time again in the NHL.  How many talented young athletes are going to have to sacrifice their health, and possibly their careers, before something is done about how the officiating is handled in the NHL?

Meanwhile, the refs continue to cry about being treated unfairly in contract negotiations with the league.  Excuse me if I don't run out and start a telethon.