Like a misbehaving toddler, a Flyers player is once again sent to the timeout chair. This time it is Scott Hartnell, and he gets 2 games to think about what he did - which is quite convenient because while he's thinking, he can read the scribblings on the wall left by Randy Jones, who occupied the same chair just a month earlier.
And just like Randy Jones, Hartnell can scribble the same message: "What was the Boston player thinking? This isn't all my fault! He should've known better than to do that at the last second!!!"
Don't get me wrong though - the suspensions were warranted. Both players could've eased up, and they didn't. Or at least they didn't as far as the laws of gravity would allow them to. In both instances, first with Bergeron, and recently with Alberts, the Boston players put themselves in a mind-boggling dangerous position. Bergeron turned his back to an already engaged Jones while 3 feet from the boards, and then the other night Alberts decides to play the puck from his knees along the boards in the neutral zone.
While the suspensions were valid, the current firestorm surrounding the Flyers is laughable. There are many calling for the Flyers to lose draft picks, suffer a monetary fine, and even for John Stevens (the head coach) to be suspended.
One would think, based on all the attention, that the Flyers are the Broad Street Bullies reincarnate. That they pummel their opponent on a nightly basis with cheap hits, and blows to the head. Afterall, it has to be true - they have had four players suspended so far this year, right? Well, before you sharpen up the pitchfork and ignite the torch, ask yourself why is it that many other hits - some just as, if not more egregious than the ones laid out by Hartnell and Jones, have gone unpunished.
Well, I have a simple explanation, and I point my orange and black colored foam finger right in the direction of the Canadian media. And I only point out the Canadian media because the U.S. media sports writers were too busy covering sports higher up on the interest ladder - such as golf. But that's another story.
Following the Downie hit, the media launched themselves into a feeding frenzy. Afterall, it was preseason and there really wasn't much to write about. Also, lest we forget, Downie was a kid with zero NHL experience. And please, disregard the fact that he was drilled from behind into the boards with no call. That has no bearing on his seething anger and subsequent poor decision to level McAmmond.
The media called for Downie's head on a platter stating that it was "Downie being Downie". If he punched a teammate in the face in juniors, and now leveled an NHL regular who should have known better than to have his head down in preseason, then he surely is the anti-Christ. Twenty games wasn't enough.
And then came Boulerice.
Somewhere, in the dark, stale coffee smelling bowels of Canadian news outlets both producers and editors gave their best Danny Briere goal celebration right fist pump. Surely this was editorial gold.
The Broad Street Bullies were back. Even better, like mana from the heavens, was the Flyers 2007-08 marketing slogan: Back with a Vengenace. And from here, the snowball began to take shape.
The early season saw some very questionable hits. Ohlund breaking Koivu's leg with a two-handed swing; Sutton clocking a defenseless Lasse Kukkonen in the head with no time left in the game; Parker cross-checks Phaneuf to the face; Alberts getting his head crunched into the dasher by Hartnell after dropping to his knees to play a puck along the boards; Jones hitting Bergeron from behind after Bergeron put himself in a vulnerable position along the boards.
Two of those offenses were against players who had at least 50% culpability in their own injuries. Only two of those offenses were the top story in the Canadian sports media. Two of those offenses involved a player wearing orange and black, and ironically only two of those offenses ended with a suspension.
Guess which two.
So while I'm not saying Jones or Hartnell are without blame, I am saying that the bigger blame lies with the inconsistency in which these suspensions are doled out. They are also, at least those to the Flyer players, due to the snowball effect of the earlier Downie and Boulerice hits, and the media firestorm they both generated.