If revenge is a dish best served cold…
…I guess it’s a good thing that hockey is played on ice.
Tonight the Pittsburgh Penguins are in Boston to take on the Bruins for the first time since Matt Cooke viciously hit Marc Savard with an elbow to the head on March 7. Fans are almost guaranteed to see some kind of reaction from the Bruins. Cooke was not suspended by Colin Campbell and the NHL, even though he is a repeat offender. Savard, the Bruins’ leading scorer, suffered a concussion and is likely out for the remainder of the season. The Bruins, who struggled to score goals even with Savard in the line-up, have an even bigger up hill battle to climb with out him if they want to make the playoffs.
A lot of NHL players have already spoken out against head shots lately, especially Cooke’s own teammate Bill Guerin after the cheap shot. We’ve all seen incidents like this before and I think any retaliation can go one of two ways.
The first way is an all out brawl. The thought of two teams throwing caution too the wind is exciting for hockey fans. It brings back memories of the old Detroit Red Wings and Colorado Avalanche brawls from the late ’90s. Maybe I’m in the minority here, but I look back at that brawl fondly. Claude Lemieux hit Kris Draper with a cheap shot from behind and smashed his face into the boards during the previous season. The next time the two teams met, Lemieux knew what was coming, the Avs knew what was coming, everyone in Joe Louis Arena knew what was coming. It started with a scuffle between Igor Larionov and Peter Forsberg and led to an all out brawl with Darren McCarty exacting revenge for his teammate and Brenden Shanahan flying through the air to take out Patrick Roy.
The second way tonight could unfold is a cheap shot. This is the scenario I certainly hope does not happen. Everyone remembers Todd Bertuzzi punching Steve Moore from behind, breaking his neck and ending his career. This incident came after Moore gave Markus Naslund a cheap elbow to the head. Now, I’m not condoning Bertuzzi’s actions by any means, but I don’t believe he intended to break Moore’s neck. After the sucker punch (which in itself is still totally uncalled for), Moore’s body givens way and Bertuzzi falls on him, followed by Moore’s Avalanche teammates jumping on top of the pile. This is what I believe actually broke Moore’s neck. Regardless, the cheap shot was completely ridiculously and you could argue that it ended both guys’ careers. Bertuzzi just hasn’t been the same since. This is the last thing that I want to see happen to anyone on the ice tonight.
In the end, I truly hope that Dan Bylsma sends Cooke out on the ice early. Do it the first shift of the game. We have to expect some sort of revenge tonight or else the Bruins will receive a serious negative reaction from the local media and will probably lose much of their fringe fan base for the rest of the season
If someone is going to fight him, I hope Cooke is prepared to take his medicine and get it done early. And of top of that, if the Bruins go after anyone, I hope they go after Cooke and not someone else on the team, especially Crosby. He’s the one responsible for Savard’s injury and there is no reason to go after the arguably the league’s best player because his teammate screwed up. Both teams need to get this out of the way and put it behind them. There are two big points on the line that both teams need. Bruins need to secure a playoff spot and the Penguins want to win their division.
One thing is for sure, tonight has the potential to be a very memorable night. Let us just hope that it’s for a memorable brawl and not because someone was once again taken off the ice on a stretcher.