Friday, November 04, 2005

What goes around comes around

Many believe in hockey karma, and thus, dismiss the need to retaliate onto those whose committ perceived hockey sins.

If you're one of these people, I imagine the news that Rick Nash is once again out of the Blue Jackets' line-up, indefinitely, makes you smile. Nash has missed all but three of the Jackets games this year due to an ankle sprain, and is now out with a knee injury.

He cheapshooted Mike Peca earlier in the week in a game against the Edmonton Oilers. It was only slighty less vicious than the elbow Eric Boulton threw on Paul Ranger of the Lightning, fracturing his skull. Boulton got a six game suspension. Nash didn't even get a penalty.

Some have, after examining the play closely, magnifiying the key areas, argued that it wasn't an elbow but a shoulder. I find that somewhat dubious, as it sure looked like an elbow to me, but even if it wasn't, is a shoulder to the head any less painful? Is the difference in pain equal to the difference in the response to each hit?

The way modern equipment is built, a shoulder pad is almost as rock hard as an elbow pad. Shoulder or elbow, both are deliberate shots at the head, something that, I think, has to be eliminated from the game ASAP.

It's funny how a difference of 10 inches on the arm can either make someone public enemy number one or one of the most respected defenceman of the modern era. Scott Stevens got praise upon praise heaped unto him when he announced his retirement earlier this season. Most pointed to his crushing hits as evidence as to why he was so great. There's no questioning his dominance as a player. He could often, single handedly, take over a game with a big hit. But were they clean? Most of them that I saw were intentional shots to the head. Because it was the shoulder, not the elbow, Scott Stevens is a hero.

I don't think you'd be out line in suggesting a double standard in the NHL on the Nash and Boulton cases. Nash is a superstar player. Someone who the league, and his team, intend to build around. They want him in the line-up to fill seats. Eric Boulton is expendable. There are 100 players of similar skillsets in the AHL right now. As such, Boulton got time on the sidelines while the most Nash got was questioning from the Edmonton media after the game. Funny how that works.

No need to unleash Georges Laraque on Nash, Oil fans. The situation's taken care of itself.


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