The people who can't wait to watch the blood spill and see a man get kicked in the head during a UFC match did not like what they saw in Boston Saturday?
Excuse me, I am a bit confused.
Let's do a quick review, shall we?
The game began with an open ice hit delivered by Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik on Bruins forward Loui Eriksson. Eriksson suffered a concussion and will be out of action indefinitely.
A few minutes later, Boston's Brad Marchand was briefly shaken up when he was kneed in the head by Pittsburgh's James Neal, who has since been suspended five games.
While everyone's attention was on that incident, Bruins tough-guy Shawn Thornton decided to make Orpik answer for the Eriksson concussion. The result saw Orpik being removed from the ice on a stretcher after suffering a concussion of his own.
And this was just the first period.
The second period would see Bruins forward Chris Kelly have his right fibula fractured as a result of a slash delivered by Penguins forward Pascal Dupuis.
The injuries that occurred in the game were unfortunate to say the least, but it is time for everyone to take a step back and think about why the contest went down the "old time hockey" path.
First, the players. The pride these guys have motivates them to do whatever it takes to win. Not to mention, the Penguins won the Stanley Cup in 2009. The Bruins won it in 2011. The members of each team want to get their names on the silver chalice again and they will do everything in their power to do so.
Second, this was not just another game on the schedule. It was Boston versus Pittsburgh. From the moment I arrived at TD Garden at noon, the electricity was palpable throughout the building. This is a rivalry that goes back to, arguably, May 3, 1991 the night former Penguin Ulf Samuelsson injured current Bruins president Cam Neely with a leg check to Neely's knee/thigh. The affected area never healed properly and Neely, after playing in portions of the next five seasons, retired in 1996.
The rivalry escalated on March 7, 2010 when Pittsburgh's Matt Cooke delivered a blindside hit to the head of Boston center Marc Savard resulting in a concussion. Savard still experiences concussion-like symptoms.
The players who are experiencing Boston versus Pittsburgh for the first time have been fully indoctrinated into the animosity that exists between the organizations.
Let's be honest, these teams hate each other and their fans follow suit.
Third, the on ice officials. Many believe that if Orpik’s check on Eriksson was penalized, the events that unfolded would have been avoided. Eriksson did not have possession of the puck when Orpik put his shoulder into the Bruins player’s head. At the very least, the play should have been ruled interference but neither referee deemed the play worthy of a penalty. Sadly, we witnessed the consequences of their actions or inactions.
Those three factors contributed to the injuries and upcoming disciplinary actions for those involved.
This is not meant to condone the actions of Orpik, Neal, Dupuis and Thornton. Each act was irresponsible and reckless and resulted in head injuries and broken bones.
It was a night-some call it a nightmare-that will live in the memories of those who witnessed it for a very long time.
Sadly, the emotions ran high and spilled beyond TD Garden.
People were “disgusted” by the “violence.” People saw the game as the deterioration of the sport. People called for “something to be done, immediately.”
People, suddenly, became hypocrites.
Many of the same folks who buy pay-per-view wrestling matches were “outraged” by the “violence on the ice.”
Everyone sitting at a keyboard had an opinion and while some offered what they thought would be satisfactory discipline for the players, others spewed their indignations by lashing out at the individuals with personal attacks. The insults, accusations, and profanities flew at warped speed.
One well known and respected Boston sports writer received a tweet from a “fan” telling him he would “breathe his last breath” the following day.
For the most part, those tweets and comments were quickly dismissed with the general feeling being that the authors of such were just ignorant people who do not have a clue regarding the personality of the player (or writer) nor of the game of hockey, for that matter.
Their opinions are most commonly referred to as “noise.” Twitter, Facebook, and sports talk radio are full of noisemakers before, during, and after every game.
Interestingly, those who were the noisemakers expect to be the most vociferous after the game, were the quietest.
The players in both dressing rooms issued the customary “no comment” when asked about all that had taken place.
They knew that hearings were going to be scheduled and that it was not up to them to decide how long a suspension should last or if one should be incurred by any one specific player. They had nothing negative to say about their opponents and said it will be “up to the league to decide” what the consequences will be.
Ironically, after all the chaos that was caused by lack of reasoning, it was the participants who brought back “old time, Eddie Shore hockey” who showed the most restraint and reasoning.
And that is how it always is, people who have nothing to do with the teams make the most “noise” while the members of the teams act in the manner human beings should always act.
It is time for people to bring back a sense of decorum and respect for one another.
There is the very old saying that we have all heard, “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” We, as a society, have strayed from that.
It has become acceptable to sit behind a keyboard and hurl insults at others. It does not matter what type of person the target is, if you do not like what he did, said, or wrote, just insult and/or attack that person to the point where someone can, essentially, make a threat on a life and not face consequences.
As mentioned, the players will be disciplined for what they did (Neal gets five games, Thornton will have his in-person hearing at a TBA date); if only there were consequences for those who create worthless noise but since there is no such thing, it is time for some to execute basic common sense and say the words, “no comment” just as the players do.
Shawn Hutcheon is the Boston Correspondent for The Fourth Period.