Though I am a believer in only the one, true, God...thank-you hockey gods (and San Jose Sharks)!!! How fitting that Thugville's third major (non-fighting) penalty and countless game misconduct cost them the game and series! It could not have been more perfect. If you can blame the lack of hockey enthusiasm on any players, it would certainly include the thugs of the game...and somehow the Predators ended up with several on their team. If I was the owner, I would place the blame for this series loss squarely on Barry Trotz. He has overseen, allowed, and likely encouraged his team's "style" of play. They are more interested in hurting players than taking advantage of the pure skill of guys like Kariya, Arnott, and Forsberg. It is a real shame that those guys have to be lumped in with losers like Tootoo, Nichol, and Hartnell. Even worse is the fact that those classless punks are rubbing off on young, could-be superstars like Radulov. On top of all this, the ever-so-bright fans in Thugville egg it on with clever phrases like "ref you suck," goalie you suck." Again, if I were the owner, I would be making changes from the top to the bottom, including the fans! But I digress...
The Predators had just taken complete momentum scoring two goals in forty seconds, giving themselves a 2-1 lead. The first, a top-shelf rebound from Jason Arnott, and the second off a beautiful feed from Peter the Great, from behind the net! And then, out of nowhere, it's a bird...it's a plane...no, it's...ANOTHER THUGVILLE PREDATOR! Yet another crime that leads not to the penalty box, but to the dressing room instead...followed by another suspension! PURE BRILLIANCE! And let us not forget Vokoun costing them with a slash to Bernier that caused enough damage to send him to the locker room. Here is a breakdown of their penalties and suspensions in the brief, 5-game 1st round...
Hartnell - 4 minors, 2 majors (kneeing, fighting), 1 game misconduct
Tootoo - 3 minors (1 boarding), 1 fighting major, 1 game misconduct
Nichol - 1 minor, 1 major (spearing), 1 game misconduct, definite suspension
Radulov - 2 minors, 1 major (check from behind), 1 game misconduct, 1-game susp
They take 4 of the top 12 in penalty minutes including Hartnell at #1, 4 of the top 5 in majors, and 4 of the top 6 in game misconducts.
All that being said, Thugville simply gives the NHL another black eye! I am thankful they were ousted early...most of them deserved it. I chose the word "purge" in the headline because it speaks volumes on the situation. Purge means to rid, flush out, cleanse...they needed to be flushed out of the playoffs, in essence, cleansing the NHL. Sorry Peter, Jason, Paul, and the likes...lobby for some classier teammates...and please Mr. Leipold, revamp your entire organization!