It’s funny (but not), and fitting, that in a week where we’ve spent a great deal of time talking about baseball’s old, drunk, incontinent demons still plaguing the youthful and logical, hockey strolls into the saloon, hitches up its belt, and says, “Oh, you think you’re stupid? I’ll show you stupid.”
John Tavares suffered a truly terrifying head injury in the opening minutes of Toronto’s Game 1 with Montreal. It is not for the squeamish. I’ll link to it here, but I recommend you skip it if you haven’t seen it already. All you need to know is that Tavares was hit in the head by Corey Perry’s knee after a weird fall, was stretchered off, and it was a complete accident. The aftermath was nothing short of sickening as Tavares attempted to get up, and couldn’t, and then needed all medical personnel available to attend to him.
Then, this being hockey, and after the several minutes it took to attend to Tavares and get the game started again, with everyone still pretty shaken, this happened:
The moronic levels you have to dig through here would require a team of archaeologists. To be fair, I completely understand the need to punch Corey Perry. Every hockey fan outside of Anaheim has wanted to at some point. Most players have thought about it, if not fantasized about it. And I guess if I squint real hard, someone could argue that he’s earned absolutely no benefit of the doubt. But this? C’mon. There’s no way he could avoid what happened to Tavares. Especially with how slow he is to react to everything these days. And the Leafs didn’t really think it was on purpose either.
Here we have the captain of the Leafs suffering what could be massive head trauma, so these two barely sentient beings decide the thing that has to be done, for reasons that neither of them could identify if you asked, was to try and inflict head trauma on each other. To settle what? Will Tavares be magically better because Nick Foligno decided to throw punches at the guy that accidentally ran into him? Foligno was captain of the Columbus Blue Jackets for years, and it’s getting clearer why the Jackets have basically been a worthless entity for most, if not all of their existence.
Maybe this is just how hockey players process shock and trauma. Someone suffered what may be a life-altering injury, and they can’t talk about it, so I’ll just try to punch some guy. Some people write poetry, some go to the gym constantly, hockey players drop the gloves. Maybe it’s catharsis. That would just about be the only reasonable explanation, and it isn’t one.
Maybe Foligno was just trying to rally his clearly shaken teammates. That’s always the first excuse that gets pulled out to defend fighting when the debate of banning it gets started. It’s a way to motivate the bench. Which doesn’t make any sense, because if you’re the opponent, wouldn’t you want the other team to stay flat? Why would you agree to this? Oh right, THE CODE. You have to. Otherwise the ghost of Toe Blake will haunt your children. Baseball isn’t the only one with unwritten rules that no one can justify on any real plane of intelligence.
Let’s just say Foligno lived out every fan’s dream who has ever watched Corey Perry, and really connects on a straight right, and knocks Perry out. It doesn’t happen often in hockey fights but it does from time to time. Just really catches him clean. And Perry is then out on the ice. That’s two unconscious players in the span of 15 minutes. Who would that help? Would the Leafs players feel better? Ready to play a playoff game now?
It’s never ceases to startle how hockey just can’t stop fucking itseff. Because tonight had some great drama. The Panthers and Lightning played yet another classic that saw the Panthers win 6-5 in overtime. The Penguins got a late goal to win 5-4 in a back-and-forth game in front of a frothing Nassau Coliseum. Montreal’s Paul Byron in that Leafs-Habs game scored a shorthanded winner on a magnificent individual effort to give the Habs a 2-1 win. These playoffs so far have been dynamite, and an excellent advertisement for what the game could be. But hockey can never leave it alone without spilling their soda all over it and making everything sticky.
Tavares’s injury was always going to be the headline of the evening, due to the horrific nature of it. But along with that now is this attached dumbassery, because hockey just has to attach its doofus nature to everything.
Except… it doesn’t have to. The answers are right in front of it. But it would rather punch it than take it in.