Forewarning: This isn’t our typical kind of article. So if you’re looking for pictures, gifs, and funny commentary, please continue to the next article.
It’s an unfortunate reality that in life our favorite things, people, and sports teams inevitably disappoint us for something they did that we simply cannot stand behind.
Clearly I am an avid hockey fan. I have a passionate love for the game that my parents and non-hockey-fan friends see has borderline crazy.
On more than one occasion, I have been thoroughly disappointed by the Penguins before. Whether it was the end of the 2011-2012 season with their last game against the Flyers ending in absolute bedlam, along with the atrocious playoff series to follow or in the Eastern Conference Final last year where they were swept by the Bruins and the rivalry that has budded since. And I’m sure Tina can say how many times the Bruins have disappointed her as well.
Leading up to my next point. In my time as a hockey fan, the game itself has never disappointed me. But there’s a first time for everything.
Last night was nothing but normal here at school, Tina and I in separate rooms watching the Penguins @ Bruins final regular season game for this year.
Then, incident #1: Brooks Orpik laid a huge hit onto Loui Eriksson within the opening minute. I’m not going to discuss whether I think it was a clean or dirty hit, but this hit set the stage for the rest of the game seeing as Eriksson had to leave the remainder of the game and no penalty was assessed on the play.
Now mind you, at this point I’m looking at the TV like “Oh God. Here we go again.” Because as tough as the Penguins are, hard hitting will always and forever be the Bruins dominant territory. If you watched you know the game got more and more intense throughout the first period. Shawn Thornton being the “stick up for your teammate” kind of guy was going after Orpik to make sure he answered for his hit on Eriksson. However, if you know Brooks’s game as well as I do, you know he’s not the kind of guy who feels the need to fight in order to settle a score for something he did. Thornton continued to harass him without answer and was given a minor penalty for roughing about 6 minutes into the game.
The game continued in its rough nature until the two most highly controversial plays of the night. Let’s go in chronological order and discuss James Neal’s run-in with Brad Marchand first.
Everyone knows I love Nealer, but his knee to Marchy’s head is something I will not standby and defend him for. It made me even more upset when in his post-game interview he tried to play it off as if it was an accident and he didn’t notice him laying on the ice. I call shenanigans on those statements. Luckily Marchand was okay and able to finish out the game. As for another post-game interview, specifically coach Dan Bylsma’s, I applaud him for calling Neal out and saying he didn’t make the effort to get out the way. Neal has a phone hearing with the NHL Department of Player Safety at a date TBD and since it is a phone hearing, his suspension will be no more than 5 games.
Now the incident that ensued in the seconds after Neal’s knee on Marchand.
There was a bit of a scrum occurring between the two teams at the other end of the ice because if the previous incident and dutifully, the referees were breaking it up. One of the people involved in the scuffle was none other than Brooks Orpik. If you’ve seen the video (which will not be posted on this blog), then you know Shawn Thornton made an effort to skate towards Orpik, pull him down to the ice, and punch him in the head a couple of times. I do not want to know what possessed him to do such a thing to an unsuspecting player who made it pretty clear in the minutes before that he was not interested in fighting.
Orpik was down on the ice for a significant period of time and the training and medical staff were immediately called from the benches once the referees saw the condition he was in. After getting him to Mass General Hospital, where he was able to complete a number of tests to ensure he was okay, the Penguins did release a statement saying the Brooks was conscious and alert. *insert slight sigh relief here*
In Thornton’s post-game interview, he did nothing but apologize for his actions, and as a Penguins fan I’m glad he did. He will have an in-person hearing with the Department of Player safety at a date TBD, meaning he will face a suspension of 6 or more games. Now before any of you start smack talking Thornton for being “such a dirty player” please keep in mind that this will be his first suspension EVER. One dirty play does not make him a dirty player. Make sure you get your facts straight.
When all hope was essentially lost at this point in the game, there was one moment that made me realize there was still some class left. This act was performed by none other than Patrice Bergeron, helping the responding EMT get the stretcher over to where Orpik lay unconscious.
This was the only redeeming moment in the entire game. So thank you Patrice for making me believe there was still some sort of light at the end of this very dark tunnel.
Say whatever you want about what happened at this game, but for me, I was crushed at what this “rivalry” has come to. If playing tit-for-tat and messing with a players long term health has become a part of it, then count me out because that’s not a true rivalry. Also, if you’re a so-called fan saying “Orpik got what he deserved”, then you need to learn to respect another human beings life. Because it doesn’t matter what team you cheer for, any decent fan would never wish this upon their worst enemy. This is a time when Eriksson and Orpik’s long term health has come into play and all any fan should be caring for is that they both make a full and speedy recovery.
I’m happy this is the last time the Penguins and Bruins are to meet in the regular season because I don’t want to know what the next game would (or may (come playoffs)) have entailed after this disgusting, gutless display of hockey.
The score may have been 3-2 in favor of the Bruins, but there was no real winner at the end of this game.
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