More Tough Guy Posturing at the TD Garden

Filed in Featured, Sports by on March 19, 2010 0 Comments

I am a vengeful man. I harbor grudges long past their relevance. I practically wring my hands at all the ruing my enemies will do when they get their comeuppance, for, you know, whatever it was they did.

Yet even I’m having a hard time feeling good about the Bruins score-settling with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Last night, the teams met for the first time since the Pens’ Matt Cooke blindsided Bruins Center Marc Savard with an elbow to the face that dropped Savad unconscious to the ice. Savard suffered a Grade 2 concussion and will miss the rest of the season.

Marc Savard unconcious after a blow to the head

Bruins center Marc Savard being attended to after suffering a Grade 2 concussion (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

Since that game eleven days ago, the Bruins publicly stewed over the questionable hit, and the league’s decision not to suspend Cooke; officials did not rule the hit a penalty during the game and, after a video review, the league decided not to level any punishment. Former Bruin Bobby Orr, who was honored last night along with other Bruins from the 1970 championship team, even said that had his team been tasked with retaliating, the retribution would have been so severe as to land them in jail.

So when the two teams squared off again last night, the Bruins wasted no time getting even. Five seconds after Cooke first stepped on the ice and Bruin’s resident enforcer Shawn Thornton  had his gloves off. Smirking, Thornton circled in, ripped off Cooke’s helmet and leveled him with a few vicious blows. Thornton’s manhandling was so determined—as officials separated the two, Thornton pulled Cooke close for a few parting jabs— that he was given a ten minute misconduct penalty in addition to the standard five minutes for fighting.

The near unanimous consensus is that the Bruins did what had to be done. They carried out hockey justice, a noble code of conduct never spoken of, and found only chiseled on the surface of a frozen pond somewhere in northern Canada.

The Globe’s sports section today had a full page of praise split between three articles, two of which jump from page one. And while the articles criticize the overall lethargy of the Bruins in last night’s shutout loss, they are unwavering in their approval of Thornton’s retribution.

This all seems incredibly brutish and unnecessary. I understand that violence is inherent in a contact sport like hockey. I understand the desire to protect teammates. And I understand the desire for revenge—I’m still plotting how to destroy my first grade nemesis.

But this sort of tough guy posturing is what makes me want to hate sports. A fast break trick shot? Awesome. Two toothless dudes jawing , wrestling, and falling to the ice? Not interested. I don’t care about inflated egos, and I don’t think cheap shots are any way to even up for cheap shots. If anything, they only encourage more of this stupidity.

There’s that great Gandhi quote, “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.” To me, this is a lot like that, only with concussions and permanent brain damage.

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