One Cheesesteak With a Side of Double Standards, Please

While the Capitals were holding hot-dog eating contests and beating the Leafs last night, the Battle of Pennsylvania was being waged. The Penguins lost to the Flyers, 4-3, but that wasn’t the big story in either town. No, the big topic of discussion was Georges Laraque’s hit on Steve Downie. To no one’s surprise, perspective on the incident has been wildly divergent between the two cities. Here’s Pittsburgh’s take:

When Laraque reflected on it, he saw an incident in which he pushed Downie, not cross-checked him, and did so with absolutely no malice, let alone intent to injure. “If I want to hit somebody from behind,” Laraque said, “he’s not going to get up.”

After witnessing Laraque’s fights from the past, I’m inclined to agree with him. He doesn’t mess around. In the name of fairness, however, here’s Philly’s view:

“It was a very, very dangerous play,” Flyers coach John Stevens said. “Laraque outweighs him by 80 pounds [about 40, according to the rosters]. He was five feet from the boards. It was extremely dangerous.”
Laraque should and likely will be suspended by the league, but there is a bigger problem that only the players can solve. This lack of respect for each other should disturb every player in the game.

Nice embellishment of Laraque’s weight. Does that mean Downie should only fight guys who are in the same weight class as him? Somehow I don’t see Stevens complaining when the shoe’s on the other foot. And where’s that “lack of respect” argument when Downie’s busy inflicting similar “very, very dangerous” hits on other players? It’s interesting how only now Stevens thinks that such hits are “vicious.”
Let’s not forget that Downie wasn’t even hurt. As the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette notes:

Downie did, in fact, get up after a brief time on the ice and, aside from the final 2.6 seconds of the period, did not miss any playing time. At least not until 5:34 of the third period, at which point he was assessed a fighting major and game misconduct for not having his sweater tied down during a bout with Penguins rookie Ryan Stone…”He got up and fought in the third, so I’m not worried about it at all,” Laraque said. “He was fine. He was laughing. He did that job perfectly. He drew a five-minute power play. That was his job, and it worked.” Downie’s take on the sequence was that “stuff like that happens,” and that “we were both going in the corner for the puck.”

So if Downie doesn’t have a problem with it, why should anyone else? It’s not like the guy was decapitated or even injured, though you’d think he was by Philly’s reaction. Far be it for me to side with Pittsburgh on anything, but it’s refreshing to see Downie get a taste of his own medicine, no matter how minor.
Watch the hit here:

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24 Responses to One Cheesesteak With a Side of Double Standards, Please

  1. Biff says:

    As is usually the case in instances like this, both sides are half right. It was without question a dangerous play by Laraque, but it’s pretty clear there was no malicious intent on his part. Not to mention the fact that Downie put himself in a pretty dangerous position to begin with by turning his back to Laraue while going into the corner.

  2. Thunderweenie says:

    Only thing wrong with that hit was that Downie got up. 🙂
    But seriously, folks…it was actually a pretty ugly hit. The five-minuter was perfectly appropriate, and, had Downie been hurt, a suspension would have been as well.
    Ironic, though, that it was pretty much a replay of Downie’s own uber-cheap shot on Dean McCammond in the pre-season.
    Payback sure is a beeyotch, ain’t it, Downie?

  3. knight says:

    Ah yes, the classic ?¢‚ǨÀúhe got what was coming to him?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢, ?¢‚ǨÀúhe should not have turned his back?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢, ?¢‚ǨÀúhe was not hurt?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢ arguments. Love ?¢‚ǨÀúem. How long until someone in the NHL is hurt from one of the head shots/boarding hits? Is Dowine a thug, yes! Was he really hurt, No! Did he deserve to be hit from behind, no! Fight him sure, go ahead. Sooner or later someone in the NHL is going to NT get up from one of these stupid and senseless hits. The reason for the hit won?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢t matter, the past history of the injured player won?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢t matter, whether he meant to hit him or not won?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢t matter, it all won?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢t matter when the rest of the main stream media is covering a cripple in the hospital and the NHL and the entire hockey world tries to explain what happened. Hockey is a violent sport played at a very intense level but until the NHL comes down on head shots/boarding hits etc consistently and evenly across the board without regard to the reasons for and results of the hit, we (fans, players, NHL execs?¢‚Ǩ¬¶.) walk a very thin line between what is considered payback/aggressive play and a crippling injury.

  4. Brad says:

    While I agree there is some justice in Downie getting creamed like this, I can’t say I’d be against a minor suspension. This wasn’t anywhere near as bad as Downie’s hit, to be sure, but I could see this getting a game or two (to me, this is worse than Kovalchuk’s, even if there’s less intent; sorta like Randy Jones, but with a worse reputation). It is dangerous to let injury play any part in whether or not there is a suspension, because you’re supposed to be punishing the act, not the result.

  5. Smitty says:

    It’s like watching two complete douchebags get into a fight with each other. You’re happy one of them lost, but you’re sad that one of them won. That makes this a no-win situation for those of us who think they’re both punks.
    It was a dangerous and stupid hit, but I can’t think of anyone I’d rather see playing the role of recipient.
    Also, I can’t stand the whole “he was fine” argument – not necessarily in this situation, but as a whole. I say if the intent was clearly there, string up the perp. In most states, attempting to commit a crime carries the same punishment as committing the crime successfully. Makes sense to me.

  6. The point isn’t that Laraque shouldn’t be punished (he should), it’s the question of why Stevens tolerates the behavior when his players do it, but becomes upset when it happens to them. It’s hard to take his outrage seriously when he has several players who already served suspensions this season for similar reasons.

  7. P-Mac says:

    I say if the intent was clearly there, string up the perp.
    Oke, I will bite. {bite}

  8. bill matz says:

    downie’s hits were vicious, and he was aptly suspended for them, as were other flyers, who were more victims of circumstance rather than players intending to injure. while the play did resemble randy jones’ suspendable offense this season, the difference is downie had his back turned the entire play, he did not turn at the last second in order to avoid contact or draw a penalty. This is also laraque’s second DIRTY PLAY against the flyers in the past two games, as he took a dive at Marty Biron’s legs in their past encounter. Letang’s hit on Scott Upshall earlier in the game was also “questionable” and raises the argument that if it had been upshall or hartnell or downie or cote boarding malkin or staal or gonchar, what would the league’s reaction have been? an unanswerable question, yes, but i think there will be some insight when the league’s ruling on laraque is handed down.

  9. bill matz says:

    and the fact that laraque says “if i wanted to hit someone from behind they wouldn’t get up” just shows his respect for the game. Downie did not put himself in that position, as he went in to the boards straight, not turning, as was the case in randy jones’ suspension. and the flyers organization does not “tolerate” the actions from their players. that’s why steve downie, and the rest of the team has been reprimanded by GM paul holmgren. and what exactly do you expect coach stevens to do? disown his own players and say downie had it coming? be realistic, he is sticking up for his guys, any coach in the league would have said the same thing.
    and out of curiosity? what team lead the nhl in penalty minutes last season? who won the stanley cup championship? who was their captain? how many times was he suspended?
    double standards.

  10. Thunderweenie says:

    Sorry, guys, but I disagree when you say that injury plays no part in it. Check the NHL rulebook, Rule 44 b)(Boarding):
    b) “When a major penalty is imposed under this Rule for a foul resulting in an injury to the face or head of an opponent, a game misconduct shall be imposed.”
    And then, of course, there is rule 43, “Attempt to Injure”, where a match penalty (with an automatic suspension, etc.) is assessed for deliberate injury or attempts to injure.
    You can certainly argue that rule 43 should have been invoked last night. I disagree, but that’s ultimately an issue of interpretation. I think its a bit much, though, to imply that Laraqcue should be automatically suspended because he boarded Downie. To my mind, the rulebook simply does not support that interpretation.
    I think that Laracque’s hit was more a stupidly-timed hit from behind as opposed to Downie’s near-beheading of McCammond back in September (which was truly vicious in a way that Larcque’s hit just wasn’t). I’m comfortable with a 5-minute major for boarding, with no deliberate attempt to injure.

  11. Thunderweenie says:

    …and as for the “Downie deserved it” argument…I know, I know, that kind of frontier-justice crap creates a lot of problems. Just ask Steve Moore.
    But I live in Ontario, so I’ve been watching Downie since he played in major-junior. This punk has a way of making enemies, and he just doesn’t seem to have that “kill switch” that most of us have. Its hard to feel sorry for him.
    I know its a cliche, but those who live by the sword…
    There. I’ve had my say on both issues. Have at it, guys and gals! 🙂

  12. maruk says:

    Of course you’re right, but it’s not Stevens’ job to be objective. His job is to protect his players, to exaggerate the shots they take and to minimize the shots they give. It’s just the way it is and there is no point being outraged at his faux-outrage.

  13. Thunderweenie says:

    Maruk, you’re right, except that its perfectly legitimate for commentators like DCSC (and the rest of us) to call Stevens out for that very faux-outrage.
    The Flyers Have No Clothes! 🙂

  14. Victor says:

    ?¢‚Ǩ?ìIf I want to hit somebody from behind,?¢‚Ǩ? Laraque said, ?¢‚Ǩ?ìhe?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s not going to get up.?¢‚Ǩ?
    Hmm. So, if he hadn’t gotten up, it would have been intentional. Got it.
    Would that those words come back to bite ‘im in the ass sometime soon.

  15. pepper says:

    Trying to be objective – how is this hit different then Eminger’s on Ponikarovsky on Wednesday night? Looks like Laraque even backed off to me.

  16. Biff says:

    Anyone else notice that the scroll at the bottom lists the Caps’ goal scorers as Laich, Kozlov and *Beech*?

  17. Tom says:

    It shouldn’t matter whether this cheap hit by Laraque was against Steve Downie. It was a cheap shot by a man who increasingly is getting worse and worse. His cheap antic of taking out Marty Biron’s legs the last time the Pens played the Flyers should belittle his image as a tough NHL player. That was one of the lowest and cheapest antics, against a goalie, that I have seen in 40 years of watching NHL hockey. He should have gotten at least a one game suspension just for the blatant obviousness of the attempt to injure Biron on the play. I would be willing to bet you that if Cheap-Shot George had done that to Marty Brodeur, the league would have looked long and hard at that footage.
    The fact that a tough guy like Laraque would resort to such a cheap and foolish tactic is probably a sign that he is a real goon. And his utter lack of remorse about his cheap hits, proven by his ridiculous post-game comment about Downie “diving” and ?¢‚Ǩ?ìIf I want to hit somebody from behind, he?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s not going to get up?¢‚Ǩ? should show Colin Campbell that this goon needs to be dealt with before he cripples somebody with his size and strength. At least a 5 game suspension is warrented. And before you start vehemently disagreeing with me, remember, this goon showed absolutely no remorse and that should weigh heavily in any disciplinary decision.

  18. There was clearly no intent to injur, they both went in to the corner after the puck and one came out with it. Seriously, when I played college hockey 25 years ago this wasn’t even a penalty, it was an unfortunate play for the guy on the ice, but he got up, he wasn’t injured and there wasn’t any intent on either players part to hurt the other. Also they were both gliding when the hit occured., wha’t Larouque supposed to do let Downie go get the puck without playing him? How is this any different then Ovie’s attempted hit on Malkin a couple weeks ago? If Malkin hadn’t looked up and gotten the better of that should Ovie have gotten a 5 minute penalty – I think not. Boarding used to require more then 1 step directly at the player you were hitting – not anymore…why not? Despite discussions that the game is more physical this season rather than last, I think … NOT. LETS GO CAPS!!!

  19. Thunderweenie says:

    I won’t “vehemently” disagree with you, Tom, by which I mean I’m not going to trash-talk you or anything silly like that. But, sorry, I do reserve the right to disagree. Laracque’s hit on Downie was garden-variety boarding. It happens all the time.
    Its an illegal and potentially dangerous hit, sure, but suspensions and such really are meant for stuff that is off-the-charts bad. Downie’s hit on McCammond was worthy of a suspension. Simon’s skate-stomp on Ruutu was worthy of a suspension. A hit from behind into the boards where the guy shook it off and skated away? Nah. Sorry. I don’t buy it.
    You are free to dislike Laracque, his mouth, and his style of play, but ultimately he has to be judged on his actions. Is he the worst of the worst in the NHL today? Not even close.

  20. bill matz says:

    if laraque’s hit isn’t worthy of a suspension, a hit in which he drove a player who at no point was facing forward, into the boards from behind, then why was randy jones hit, in which a player turned at the last moment causing injury, worthy of suspension? the outcome should have nothing to do with the punishment. laraque is dirtier than any player on the flyers but since he doesn’t wear orange and black he will go unpunished.

  21. Thunderweenie says:

    I refer you to my previous post. By the NHL’s own rulebook, injury is a factor in assessing penalty. The rulebook does not say that every instance of boarding shall lead to a suspension.
    You can argue that boarding should be an automatic suspension, and that’s a legitimate argument–but its an argument for a rule change. The rules as they currently stand were, in my opinion, applied correctly.
    As for your “orange and black” comment…nah, I’m not even gonna go there.

  22. Dave says:

    So under the rules….For the hitter-When you hit a guy from behind, make sure he’s not a puss, so he’ll get up. For the hittee-Hit the deck and stay down. Draw the suspension. The rules are really rather simple.

  23. Dave says:

    Curious about all the Pen’s fans who are Downie haters. Did you guys feel the same way about Ulf Samuelsson and Darius Kasparaitis?

  24. Thunderweenie says:

    More like: the guy gets up and shakes off the birdies circling his head (i.e. what Downie did) = no suspension.
    The guy goes down like a sack of cement, doesn’t move, and then gets carried out on a stretcher (i.e. what Downie did to McCammond) = suspension.
    So, yes, it is kinda simple. Does it get called consistently 100% of the time? No, and neither does any other penalty. But what Laracque did to Downie just doesn’t rise to the level of a suspension. Period.
    And BTW, I’m not a Pens fan, just a guy who has been watching Downie for a while now. If you know anything about his history, you can’t possibly tell me you’re surprised that he’s become a target.
    What goes around comes around. S’all I’m sayin’.

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