Dan Boyle’s cheap shot!

 

By Jon Gabrielle      Special to The Hockey Writers

By now, if you were one of the eleven million Canadians, excluding a world-wide audience, that watched Team Canada’s thrashing of the Russian Olympic team last night, then you’ve seen the hit.  Or should I say, “slew foot?”

With just under three minutes left in the route, Alexander Semin had the audacity to crush Dan Boyle behind his own net just as he let a pass go.

Team canada crushes Russians, 7-3. (photo by Patrick/flickr)

Semin is a gifted skater who can dangle, pass, and shoot a puck as well as anyone in the NHL. He is also all of 6′ 2″ 210 lbs.  I don’t need a program to tell me that Dan Boyle is short by most standards, let alone in the world of professional hockey.

Dan Boyle collapsed to the ice under the weight of Semin’s force. But the feisty little fellow wasn’t done. The fact that his team was up 7-3 wasn’t lost on his ego either. Not only did he quickly pull himself off the ice, he followed Semin around the net and up the ice. When he caught him from behind, Boyle who had scored and set up two more Canadian goals on this glorious night, planted his right foot behind Semin and with his left arm tackled the burly Russian over his leg. For good measure, the slight Boyle stood over the fallen giant as if in a King Kong pose, admiring his handy work. A few seconds later a few of Semin’s teammates, who by this time had one eye on the exits, finally showed up. A small innocuous scrum followed with both men being banished to the sin bin for two minutes.

What’s troubling about this incident is that it has become all too endemic in the league both these men ply their craft in. The NHL, where a clean hit is almost always followed by a dirty hit.

Mike Milbury during NBC’s post game wrap-up show said, “I don’t blame Dan Boyle for going right after Alexander Semin on this…I know it was a legal hit but…don’t you agree J.R.?”  To which, his colleague and recently retired analyst, Jeremy Roenick said, “not at all, that’s what you’re gonna get with Dan Boyle. He’s extremely, extremely competitive and he’ll come after you…”

As my birthday’s have begun to pile up, I began to wonder if I have missed something over the years? After all, I hear time’s a changin. The NHL I grew up watching had competitors getting hit…a lot.

The no-check league! (photo by VancityAllie/flickr)

Dan Boyle reacted as if his mother’s purse had just been lifted, by Semin. In fact, he received a clean body check in a game that prides itself on being tough. Is there anything noble in slew-footing a man from behind when he cannot see you? Isn’t that tantamount to the old western faux-pas that you never shoot a man in the back? To quote John Tortorella, “where is the honor in that?”

Many are going to argue that since Semin also received a penalty, that Boyle was well within the unwritten “code” of the game’s antics, hence seeking a form of vigilante justice. Therefore it was with much intent I listened to Dan Boyle’s take on the incident in his post game interview with NBC’s Joe Micheletti.

While Micheletti got all of the mundane stuff out of the way, “you’re team got off to a great start Dan…how did you find the confidence…what did you do, etc., the real question was posed. “What happened with you and Semin behind the net at the end of the game?”  Boyle’s demeanor turned to a smirk calling Semin’s hit “clean.” Continuing, he admitted that his retaliation was, “dirty, I guess,” adding with a burgeoning smile, “oh well, that’s hockey.”

Sadly Mr. Boyle, indeed it is. And if you don’t believe me, just look to the major american network that televises a dozen or so NHL games every year. J.R. and Mike Milbury have your back!

As of this time, there is no word on Dan Boyle’s status for the remainder of the tournament. And I don’t know if Dan Boyle will get suspended for his slew footing of Alexander Semin.

What I do know know is that I like hockey…and I especially like the physical intimidating nature of the game. Yet, although I keep hearing from the suits within the NHL that hitting is an integral part of the game, I  am seeing on a nightly basis players retaliating when they receive a clean hit.

Yet “tough guys” with helmets and visors as hard as space ships, continue to stage fights throwing punches as if to entertain the WWF crowd?

What’s next, NFL players getting up and fighting after every play because they were tackled?

Today, the USA women play the Canadians for the Gold Medal. They tell me there’s no hitting allowed in female hockey. God forbid.

In this kinder and gentler world we live in, one thing scares me. What if, after getting slew footed,  Alexander Semin hit his head in a vulnerable spot on that space-aged helmet, giving way to his skull inside?

What scares me is that one day all those players that don’t like to get hit…may get their way.

No hitting in men’s ice hockey? Now that’s really scary!

Jon Gabrielle

Jon Gabrielle

Jon comes to THW via The Gabrielle Report where he covered the NHL doing on camera interviews with players, management and owners. Jon has coached NCAA hockey, football and lacrosse at different Universities. In Europe, he earned a graduate degree while coaching hockey. He has also coached professionally on the WTA tour.
Jon Gabrielle

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11 Comments

  1. …Hearing a hockey player say… after dirty hits …”That’s hockey”…
    ….is tantamount to a Wall Street banker saying ..”.That’s business”…
    (a real dummie’s phrase) …after having duped the U.S. tax-payers out of 700 billion dollars… and then paying himself a 20 million bonus for the mess we are in….
    …but we the fans… and citizens (in the case of the bankers), are just as much to blame because we accept that type of rational and proceed to fawn before these “wise” men…

  2. Oh please, did any of you detractors actually watch the game, watch ALL of Semin’s cheap shots? This is hockey, not cricket – these players are passionate – if they weren’t it wouldn’t be hockey. The cheap shot was Semins – Boyle’s was retaliation for ALL of Semin’s questionable behavior and bullying behavior during ALL of Russia’s games.

    Hockey is played with passion – if not – it’s not hockey, if you object go back to your sewing circle and leave hockey alone .

  3. There isn’t a single hockey player on this page. The writer sounds like he has some insight into the game ….. a game that he has never played. So how can you write about something you have never done?

    You don’t actually know what a penalty is …. why because you have never played the game. You have never felt the pressure cooker of passion, so obviously it is easy to pass your non expert judgement.

    Why not stick to figure skating or something more up your ally …..armchair hockey player.

  4. - I been reading the reports after watching this last night unfold.

    What a classless act!
    It was very sad to see a great performance by the Cannuck being overshadowed by this.
    Dan Boyle is a classless player. Not what Canada represents. Except Chris Pronger and his infamous dirty hit… But come on now. “He is just too tall” and Neithermeyer plays with “Too much heart”

    Bottom line is Canada was better on the ice than Prussia and Ovi failed to show up to the game. Plus, Navakob.. Come on dude. Why did you come to the rink?

    Bruce – I think the taunting was Mr. Ryan Getzlaf taunting the Russian player while he was on the bench. It was a sad display of sportsmanship by the Canadians. Seems as though they were still trying to make up for the drubbing they received on Sunday by the Americans.

    Dan Boyle out of the Olympics. He got sand in his eye and had to cry about it. When all he had to do was point at the scoreboard.

    The Great White North’s passion for hockey overshadows their inability to try to fight off the Little Man Syndrome they display… Sad, really

  5. It matters 0% the hit was late in the game. Why did Semin receive a penalty? It was a clean hit all day long. Millbury and Roenick sat there and defended the cheap shot? Ridiculous. The Canadians showed no class taunting towards the end of the game and Boyle’s cheap shot was the icing on the cake. He should at minimum be suspended in some fashion if not kicked out of the Olympics for intent to injure. Period

    • I didn’t see any taunting ?? were we watching the same game?
      I do agree with you about the cheap shot though. I’ve been vocal about coming after a guy in response to a clean hit. What happened to sucking it up and just saying ‘man – he got me!’ and moving on. I played for many years and never ran after a guy for nailing me – if anything he earned my respect (though I’d keep an eye out for him later..)

  6. In my eyes, Semin’s hit was a clean one. Boyle’s retaliation was dirty and despicable. Hopefully a suspension is meted out to signal to the remaining squads that unsportsmanlike play will not be tolerated. Otherwise, men’s olympic hockey will begin to seem farcical like the state that the NHL is currently in. Colin Campbell’s arbitrary suspensions are so illogical at times, that one can’t help but laugh at the league. As an avid fan of the sport, however, I am not laughing.

  7. Under most circumstances, I would agree with you. I too grow tired of seeing clean hits “punished” with fights. However, there were a few factors in this play that make it a different scenario.

    Even though the hit was technically clean, what made it dirty was how unnecessary it was. The play was 180 feet away from Semin’s net, so there was no need to take Boyle out of it. The game was nearly over, and these players were both on their last shifts of a blowout. There was no momentum to be gained by throwing a hit. And it’s not as if these two teams are meeting again in game 2, so “sending a message” does not apply.

    Had the hit occurred earlier in the game, earlier the tournament, or in a tightly-contested match, it would have been a good hockey play. Instead, it was just a guy frustrated over the outcome of a game, taking out his frustration on someone smaller than him who had outplayed him. It had nothing to do with hockey and everything to do with ego. And had it been an NHL game, where Semin knew an enforcer might hold him accountable for it, he probably wouldn’t have thrown the hit. The look on his face when Boyle took him down made it clear he was expecting to get away with it. And I don’t think he should have gotten away with it. And while there’s no honor in hitting from behind, unfortunately that’s what you get when you take out fighting. What else could Boyle do?

  8. I agree with your analyis and comments and was hoping, in the spirit of “sportsmanship” and international competition, blah, blah, blah, that something like a suspension would be forthcomming. But unfortunately that kind of crap sells air time. Just look at the goons NBC chose as analysts!!

  9. Now that it is apparently considered courages to slewfoot in retaliation, I can’t wait for the Slovaks to take aim at Boyle the first time he makes a clean check. I hope he’s a marked man for the rest of the tournament. In fact, I hope he gets knocked on his a$$ and is out for the rest of the season by a CLEAN and LEGAL hit.

  10. Jeremy Roenick needs to be let go anyway. Dribble constantly comes out of his mouth. Though the Semin hit was late in the game & Russia stood no chance; Boyle should not have slew footed him.
    I agree with your clean hit followed by a dirty hit in both the NHL & during this tournament. In my opinion the players need to “man-up.” As a player you more or less know if a hit you received was clean/dirty. If you were bested then take it like a man & professional.

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