Your team isn’t special. They are not the greatest thing since sliced bread. They are not a group of angels that have never made a dirty play in their careers.
Hockey fans are, for my money, the most passionate fans in sports. We may not have the largest following of the big four sports, but the dedication and knowledge of hockey fans is unmatched by any sport, for the most part. As a result, we take the sport incredibly seriously and are emotionally involved in the outcomes of games. These feelings are amplified during the playoffs, where the stakes are even higher.
As a result, when there is a controversial hit or play, fans’ feelings and outrage explode in blind anger. The keyboard warriors take to the internet, where they express their outrage over the “dirty, classless, gutless” actions of their opponent. In doing so, they seriously miss the mark about what really happened, and sound stupid and uneducated in the process.
This Is Hockey
Hockey is a game played by some of the most hyper-competitive athletes in the world. The most passionate hockey fans in the world aren’t as passionate about the sport as any NHL player. These men worked their entire lives to reach the pinnacle of the sport, and are now competing for the greatest trophy in the world. Moreover, these players are the biggest they’ve been in league history, and they’re playing with equipment that allows them to skate faster than ever.
The so-called “dirty hits” that players dole out are split-second, high speed decisions made in fractions of seconds. When you slow the replay down to 1/10th of game speed, of course it appears that he intentionally targeted the head of his opponent or knowingly hit him in the numbers. Though there are some incidents that are deliberate, the majority are split second decisions that happen to go wrong. However, fans have yet to grasp this concept.
Players Will Trash Talk Each Other
Recently, the microphones in the Blues-Blackhawks broadcast caught some remarks made by a Blackhawk player to David Backes after receiving a hit from Brent Seabrook. Though we aren’t sure who made them, it appears to have been Duncan Keith. Some were offended by the remarks, taking to Twitter to express their displeasure.
What most hockey fans don’t realize is that in scrums and on the ice in the NHL, there are some ungodly things said to each other. Trash talking is a part of the game, and it will never go away. Former NHLers, like PJ Stock, know this and laughed off the comments instead of being outraged over Keith’s lack of kindness on the ice. Worse things are said between players every game.
On the topic of the Seabrook hit, some fans were outraged at the apparent “smile” on Seabrook’s face after the hit and ensuing scrum. They apparently thought Seabrook should have shown more remorse for what he did. On behalf of Brent Seabrook, I’d like to apologize for him not breaking into tears over concern for Backes, a division rival and a guy who plays on the edge. Backes also plays for a team that employs Steve Ott and Maxim Lapierre, who have been suspended a combined five times.
Every Team Dives & Has Players Suspended
“You have no room to talk, your team is the dirtiest in the league,” is a line I get all the time as a Flyers fan. For some reason, in other fans’ heads, fans have no room to comment on a questionable play because of the actions of your own team’s players (even if you condemn them). If this logic was correct, then no fan in the league would have any room to talk. In the past two years, every team other than the New York Rangers has had a player fined or suspended for a questionable play. Though the Rangers haven’t had a player suspended, they currently have Arron Asham (suspended in 2012) and Dan Carcillo (suspended six times) on their roster. Every team has players that cross the line and make “dirty” plays. Nobody is innocent, as much as their fans would like to think they are.
Just as every team has players that dole out dirty hits, every team dives. The aforementioned Rangers were penalized for it twice on Sunday. Players are willing to do whatever it takes for them to win, and getting your team an additional power play could be the difference between a win and a loss. It’s something that I would like to see gone from the game, but the reality is if players can fool officials into drawing a power play, it will keep happening.
Take a Step Back, Hockey Fans
Before you post on a message board or put on social media how big of a gutless coward a certain player is, remember, this is hockey we’re talking about. Its physicality and competitiveness are a big part of what make it the greatest sport on earth. These men are playing their hearts out at a breakneck speed. And if there is a questionable hit or play, the offending team and fanbase is not automatically banished to hockey hell. If they were, chances are, your team would be right there with them.