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Mt. Carmel, PA • United States • 34 Years Old • Male
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Outrage. Disgust. Disappointment. Pick any other similar adjective and slap it into a description of how alot of hockey fans are feeling toward the Philadelphia Flyers these days. You will probably get alot of people to subscribe to that way of thinking.

Why? Of course, it has to do with the recent rash of ugly hits that have been dealt out by Flyers players, the most recent of whom was defenseman Randy Jones.

Along with the actions of Steve Downie in a preseason game against the Sens, and Jesse Boulerice in the 3rd game of the season against the Canucks, Jones has become the paper target for all of those alarmists around the NHL who want to hang the Flyers organization for these 3 incidents.

Just as a refresher, let's recall the incidents separately...

Downie received a 20 game suspension after landing a flying shoulder check to the head of Sens forward Dean McAmmond, causing a concussion that McAmmond has yet to fully recover from. Here is a clip of the hit on YouTube for reference...


And then, there is the Boulerice incident. Boulerice, in the midst of a 8-2 pounding of the Vancouver Canucks, cross-checked Ryan Kesler in the side of the head, earning him a league-record tying 25 game suspension. Here is that video...


And finally, there is the Jones incident. Jones wound up checking Boston Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron from behind and face-first into the boards during Saturday's game in Boston. Jones received a 2 game suspension for the incident seen here...


Now what I, and so many other fans of the Flyers and around the league are wondering is why is Jones being lambasted for this incident? Why is it getting so out of hand?

The answer is simple really. Sensationalism. It's a sort of head game that is being played by too many angry fans and far too many sports writers who should know better. Many people who know the game are forgetting the unfortunate frequency of these incidents in hockey, and the some of the real reasons for them. Instead, the cumulative emotion surrounding these 3 Flyers' suspensions is dominating the discussion.

What's getting lost in that discussion, or sensationalism rather, is context. The context of the Jones hit and the many factors that led up to the subsequent destruction of Bergeron.

And worst of all, the media is completely failing to acknowledge the biggest reason for Bergeron's injuries.

Patrice Bergeron.

That's right. I said it.

Bergeron himself was the biggest factor in the hit that left him unconscious on the ice with a broken nose and a concussion. That might be the less politically correct viewpoint to take, and no one wants to come off as attacking an injured person, but does the media not have a responsibility to call it from both sides? You would think that the media outlets, or at least the writers, would be looking out for the NHL to some extent because whats good for the NHL is fair and even-handed reporting. Instead, some writers are taking the opposite approach. Follow the hot story. Like the old saying goes, "never let the facts get in the way of a good story."

Why are they failing to write about the fact that Bergeron slammed on the brakes about 2 feet away from the end boards with a defender right on his tail? He KNEW Jones was closing in. Otherwise, why would he have been speeding for the puck? If he thought he was the only one persuing the puck, why did he turn his back, trying to shield the puck from Jones?

The fact is, Bergeron knew he was close to the end boards and he knew that Jones was right on his back. It was irresponsible of him to turn his back to Jones and face the boards.

We see this happen over and over again through the course of any NHL season. A player gets crushed into the boards by an opponent, and far more often than not, the recipient of the hit gets up and skates away uninjured. Life goes on, and nothing more than a boarding call ever comes of it. That is, of course, if a referee even sees it.

But alot of those boarding incidents are created in large part by actions such as Bergeron's. A player turns his back to an approaching checker, and gets sent face-first into the boards because the checker is not able to stop his forward momentum in time to avoid destroying his opponent. There was literally a split-second for Jones to react to Bergeron's sudden stop. When Jones is expecting the puck to be moved into a cycle, there is no reason why he shouldn't be able to finish a check that he thought would have landed Bergeron into the boards to the side…not face first.

Something needs to be done about players putting themselves in such harm's way. Suspensions? Penalties? No. I don't think its realistic. It has to do with coaching. Teaching these players that they don’t have to risk being seriously injured or killed to maintain possession of the puck is the answer. Do everything you can physically to protect the puck, but don't leave yourself vulnerable to horrible injury.

Yes. Randy Jones is responsible as well. I'm not trying to absolve Jones of any wrong-doing, and I'm not looking through Orange-tinted glasses just because I'm a Flyers fan. It was an illegal hit, and Jones deserved the penalties he got. I wasn't particularly crazy about the suspension, but it does seem to be consistent with suspensions handed down in recent years on other boarding incidents. For that reason, I don't argue with any of the rulings on Jones.

But what is driving me and many other people crazy is the fact that some want the Flyers organization and/or head coach John Stevens fined for this. Their reasoning? They must be encouraging it. Stevens must be telling his players to "head hunt".

Get real. There are few things more destructive to his own team Stevens could do than start insisting they try to crack skulls mid-contest. First, the players wouldn't go for it and he would lose the room quicker than if he urinated in the water bottles. In general, players have more regard for their bretheren than that, and Stevens is not that far removed from his playing days to forget it. Second, the upper management of the Flyers would squash him like a bug if they knew he was doing something that so obviously would draw negative attention to the team and the league as a whole. Rememb...Ed Snider is not just the chairman of the Flyers. He is also VERY influential within the NHL itself. The Flyers organization is his ba...he would never stand for such a risky coaching tactic.

Basically, hockey fans need to stop flying off the handle and ignoring every bit of evidence other than that which points to the Flyers returning to a "Broad Street Bullies" brand of goonery. That is a period of Flyers hockey that is near and dear to all Flyers fans' hearts, but those of us with perspective of the present know that things can never be that way again…not in the "new" NHL.
Filed Under:   randy   jones   patrice   bergeron   flyers   bruins   suspension   downie  
October 30, 2007 6:09 PM ET | Delete
Ask yourself this question. If Bergeron slammed on the brakes, two feet away from the boards, and he wasn't hit by anyone. Would he have been knocked unconscious and be taken off the ice on a stretcher? How can what Bergeron did, be the biggest factor, when what he did , would not cause himself injury? What Jones did is the biggest factor. And to say otherwise is assinine.You say "never let the facts get in a way of a good story" Saying that Bergeron turned his back at the last second to shield the puck, is simply untrue. Bergeron never turned his back, he was facing the same direction the entire time. Anythine there is a hit near the wall, it will be seen by a ref. Especially with the two Referee system. Your making things up in your head that aren't there. Bergeron skated a straight line to the puck the entire time. Jones had time to pull up
October 31, 2007 12:02 AM ET | Delete
I agree that players are turning their backs towards oncoming checkers too frequently in the NHL. However, that is not what happened on the Bergeron play. He was skating towards the corner with his back facing Jones and shuffled the puck along behind the net as he knew a defender was chasing him. The defender had time to see Bergeron play the puck away and let up on the hit. Instead, Jones followed through on the hit. However, I agree this incident was unlike the other two flyers suspensions as it appears Jones did not intend to injure with his check. Notice how his eyes followed the puck even during the middle of the hit. The play was illegal and the punishment hit the crime.
October 31, 2007 2:28 AM ET | Delete
Just another idiot blaming the victim. Jones was 100% responsible for his actions and the injury. End of story...no matter what simplistic or complex justifications you or anyone else might bring up. And as for why people are so down on the Flyers...well, it's "fans" like you who think they can justify anything done with their blame the victim syndrome. Philly is too good a team to play this way, and of course the coaches aren't "telling" their players to go out and play this way -- but the coaches and organization can put an end to it by telling their players to NOT play this way. If you've seen the videos of the Jones hit (as I assume you have) you KNOW that Jones had enough time and space to let up on the hit while still making the appropriate play. It was a flat-out dangerous hit that Bergeron had no blame for...no matter what the idiots (including Cherry and McKenzie) who like to blame the victim say.
October 31, 2007 2:49 PM ET | Delete
MJL and rdfred have you ever played in the NHL or are you part of Ice Capades? The speed in an NHL game is very fast and EACH players actions dictate the result of the play. If I throw a puck at your head are you going to be able to stop it? Randy decided to throw a check and wasn't able to pull up. Bergeron is as much at fault as Jones. Former Flyer Eric Lindros was also responsible for many of his own injuries. How many hits to the head does it take a player to figure out he can't drop his head like that. This is a physical game and is played very fast. When you're making a defensive play you react to take the man out of play, not out of action. This is exactly what Randy Jones was doing in this situation and if Bergeron had his head up, we wouldn't be having this discussion. This doesn't matter if you're a Flyers fan or a Bruins fan. Eric Lindros put himself in one too many bad spots and in this case so did Bergeron.Saying Bergeron isn't even partly responsible is irrisponsible.One last rant, the first two incidents aren't even in the same class as Randy Jones hit was. The Flyers organization and coaches condone what the other two did and instruct their players as much as the Canucks, Canadiens, Bruins, or the next team.
October 31, 2007 3:48 PM ET | Delete
Flyer10: watch the video -- obviously you haven't yet. Jones had more than enough time and space to pull up on the hit. He didn't...he chose not to. Bergeron is at no fault here. Not to get into a p i ss ing contest, but I'll bet I've played many sports to a higher level than you have. Which is to say (among other things) that I do understand how hits can be held up -- and still delivered. Jones was 100% responsible for that hit. End of story (again).
October 31, 2007 4:49 PM ET | Delete
FLyer 10, another self appointed Hockey player. Nothing makes you look dumber than saying have you ever played the game, while giving an assinine point of view about an illegal hit. Watch the Next NHL game. See how many times during a a game, a player is in a vulnerable position. See how many times a player lets up because he knows he's vulnerable. How about Gagne looking back at the Puck and then being nailed by Bowmeister. Where's all the Flyers fans saying Gagne is at fault, for putting himself in a vulnerable position. No where! A bunch of homers. A lot of Flyers fans have emebarrased themselves with this commentary. Makes me ashamed to be a Flyers fan. Man up and accept that one of our players was wrong, and responsible for the hit. If some Flyers fans would do so, we wouold take less flack from the rest of the Hockey community.
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