And yeah, it's been a couple of days since the Wings lost to the Flyers.
And yeah... since then the Wings have clinched a playoff spot, securing their position for a 19th consecutive playoff run.
But you know, even though a post about the historical implications of the longest running postseason streak in sports might be more relevant, it just doesn't fit my M.O. You see, I'm rather excited about securing a playoff berth. Giddy, in fact. In light of the difficulties experienced by this team throughout the Year of Aurie, I'm ready to do some double-pitts-to-chesties in celebration all over this bitch. However, the fact remains: I like to say fuck a lot, and it's more fitting to do so while I'm complaining about something.
So, complain I shall.
It's not anything new. I've had this gripe for years, and I know that my fellow NHL fans agree wholeheartedly. It's an almost universal point of view that transcends team loyalty, market, or individual demographic. Simply:
- Fuck the NHL and their stupid fucking inconsistent joke excuse for a crack-squad team of officials.
The most recent incidents that have spouted out my anger regarding the officiating in the NHL occurred Easter Sunday afternoon. Consider, here I was, celebrating the miraculous return of Bear Jesus, yumming down fresh animal meat as though it was going out of style, when I was forced to watch what must be the dirtiest team in the entire league take liberties with the Wings for the entire game. The most infuriating part:
- The utter lack of whistles.
All of that is just swell. But really, for me, the tipping point occurred in the third. Homer and Uncle Boy-Diddler Carcillo collide a bit at the boards. Boy-diddler falls down, as does Homer. Boy-diddler takes issue, and decides to start punching Homer in the side of the head. He all but sits on his back, throwing punches with gloved fists. Of course, at this point Homer drops his gloves, they have a clean bout, and the refs break it up after a bit.
Wait? You mean that's not how it happened? Oh, I guess that makes sense. Carcillo's a goon, and that late in the third when your team is down one, it'd be good for Homer to take the punches, draw the penalty, and then shove his ass in Boucher's face while pucks are rocketed at the net. That didn't happen either? Well, what the hell?
Oh, right. I remember now. Carcillo punched Homer in the head repeatedly. He held him, interfered with him, and threw punches. Homer was then able to stand and move toward the net. Of course, Carcillo followed, and threw more punches. Finally, after the announcers, everyone at home, and the entire classless moronic crowd noticed what was happening: a whistle. Then, the inevitable came to Carcillo:
- Offsetting penalties...wait WHAT!?
Tomas Holmstrom is one hell of an athelete. He probably takes more abuse than anyone in the league. On Sunday, he recognized an opportunity to help his team win the game. He knew that fighting Carcillo would only deprive the Wings of their best net-presence forward for five crucial minutes in a game. So he did what Homer does. He took it. He allowed for penalty after penalty to be committed against him, sacrificing his body for the good of the team. A true warrior - the consummate hockey player.
All for nothing.
All for nothing because the officials decided to do what NHL officials do: Fuck shit up. Giving offsetting penalties after Homer took an extended period of abuse in order to help his team out is ridiculous. Though, it hardly differs from the norm. Homer gets crosschecked, punched, facewashed, hooked, and held without any call more often than just about any player in the league. The NHL screws stuff like this up all the time. It's no surprise.
But isn't that the problem? Shouldn't professional referees keep their eyes open, and get it right? I get that there is a big difference between the birds-eye view of the television cameras and the on-ice view of the refs, but when everyone in the building sees the roughing before someone in black and white does, that's an issue. When players are able to use their sticks as weapons, it's an issue. When players can take liberties for an entire game without suffering any negative consequences?
To me, the Flyers game did two things. 1) It changed my mind on the team, from being lukewarm to moderately supportive (enemy of my enemy is my friend, right?), to wanting their postseason hopes to die and for a faultline to open under their arena, swallowing it whole with the entire team inside. And 2) It reinforced my belief that this team needs an enforcer.
Now, I'm not talking about a guy that takes up a roster spot to do nothing but fight. I'm talking about a D-Mac type enforcer. The kind of guy that can skate, grind, and play a position. Someone who could occasionally be an offensive asset, and rarely be a defensive liability. (If you're following along at home, go ahead and check Aaron Downey and Brad May off your lists.) Someone who is willing to lay out punishment when the incompetent referees fail to do so.
I don't think that we can simply assume that the league will some day turn it around, and start officiating in a way that prevents goons from gooning it up for an entire game. Therefore, I think it's important that the team find a player that can drop the gloves. Not all the time. In fact, I think it should be used sparingly - only in situations where it will not affect offensive momentum, and only against opponents who have not been penalized by the officials. There should be a deterrent to consistently take cheapshots throughout a game. If it isn't going to come in the form of the power play, it should come in the form of fists like hammers smashing into the side of your head.
Bah. Ah well. When I get pissed, at least I know that I've got 19 seasons of dominance to reflect on. Sweet Bear Jesus that feels good.