Late Tuesday night the leading hockey magazine in the world, The Hockey News, posted this article on the admittedly absolutely stupid and unacceptable slash by Kris Letang in Game 3 vs. New York-
That game just days ago was one of the dirtiest in the NHL's recent history. So this brazenly biased hit piece on the topic of discipline from The Hockey News and their total hack with a press cred, Matt Larkin, must be called out emphatically considering the timing.
Larkin is actively campaigning for Letang to be suspended for multiple games for the dirty slash he pulled Tuesday night. It was a garbage play by 58 of course, but where the f*** was THN’s article calling for heads after Monday's game?! Surely they published one!? They must have to dare to have the audacity to talk in such tough terms in Letang’s case?!
They didn't write a similar article on Flyer Pierre-Edouard Bellemare’s sinister hit on Washington’s Dmitry Orlov. A textbook case of boarding a vulnerable player, smack in the numbers, driving him head first into the wall. A hit that if executed with any minute difference in speed, angle, or positioning in any way could've ACTUALLY paralyzed Orlov. It was seriously that bad, as his neck took the brunt of the force and visibly recoiled upon impact. And The Hockey News didn't raise the alarm on that hit at all. They didn't call for suspension either, even though it was a clear cut case that would warrant at least a 3 or 4 game ban, if not more, in a properly run league.
And that silence is a huge problem.
Pick and choose outrage by the likes of THN is part of why we have the problems we do in the NHL with addressing discipline. THN simply doesn't give a flying f*** about getting a pound of flesh as reparations for anything that happened in the Philly-Washington game. But change the color of the jersey to one they resent and now they claim it's suspension time. It’s time to bring the hammer down. That's the same kind of utter BS that that has rubbed off and crept into the NHL Player Safety department's policing of dirty plays.
They use pick and choose enforcement that mirrors the pick and choose outrage by hockey pundits and that is no coincidence. The NHL listens to large media outlets like THN, TSN, and the rest of Canadian based "good old Canadian boy" obsessed, “you play the game by unwritten rules” hockey press. You know the guys I’m talking about.
THN and the rest that are helmed by a certain gang of "analysts" that lap up Don Cherry’s shtick with a spoon, love the Canadian country boys that go out and goon it up, and always seem to find Russian players inexplicably “lazy” or “showoffs” depending on what day you catch their commentary on.
Now, Kris Letang's stunt is without a doubt unacceptable and dangerous. You’ll get no objection from me on that fact whatsoever. It was dirty, shady garbage that I find sickening and don't want to see from anybody. And I especially expect more from a Penguin, who should know better considering the team’s injury history.
I as much as anyone want all this type of stuff addressed severely, properly, and uniformly, without opinion-based interpretation like we have now.
But let's be clear, Letang's slash pales in comparison to everything we saw in Philly, everything we've seen around these playoffs, and was even arguably less dirty than other plays in the exact same game. (A player was launched and onto the back of Henrik Lundqvist at one point, among other hazardous moves.)
So what's the harm with these columns?
Articles and calls like this from Larkin are nothing less than encouragement for the truly, fully premeditating, injury-thirsty, dirty players that freely hunt for victims on the ice.
Those guys don't have to worry quite so much about press calling them out. They know this type of hockey writer will always ignore their more serious actions and won’t call for real reform, in favor of furthering their active bias. The bias that they harbor against the Penguins, and a handful of other top teams, that the Larkins of the hockey world don't particularly like. You won't see more unprofessional work anywhere in sports writing than that. The Flyers and players of their ilk are granted a certain amount of cover from serious scrutiny by these press stooges.
And their apathy is verifiable. Here's TSN’ feed of all their articles with the "Flyers" subject tag- http://www.thehockeynews.com/blog/category/philadelphia-flyers/
There's not a single article dedicated to calling out Bellemare's hit like Letang’s slash. And there’s most certainly not an article going to the extreme lengths of campaigning for another player's suspension while hiding under the guise of "impartial" professional media. It's unreal and it's truly no better example of the sad state of Canada's national hockey press.
So what will happen with Letang in this matter?
In today's NHL, probably not a damn thing. Philly's Bellemare was the only person disciplined from the mass 3 ring circus of violence on Monday night. And incredibly only suspended for a mere single game. That's it.
Using that as a barometer, I don't think the NHL will hand Letang more than a 1 game suspension either. That is if he's even suspended at all.
Despite the best efforts of the hit piece calling for 58 to be tarred and feathered in the world's "premiere" hockey magazine (eye roll).
That's the state of the current NHL.
It's the state that gives Bellemare, Letang, and others the gall to continue to pull these dirty stunts, and a state supported in part by the piss-poor, favoritism-driven "journalism" of people like Matt Larkin and The Hockey News.
Let's hope it never leads us to the dangerous end game where a player pays for the rest of his life as a result of the wild west antics today's hockey media is helping to reinforce.