It's the Bruins fault.
In a story written by Stephen Harris in today's Boston Herald, Alzner is quoted as stating:
Everyone saw what Boston did last year, and how they were so good. They fought for their ice. They did everything it took. They frustrated teams. I think everyone is trying to play with a little bit of that. It’s successful and everyone knows it...So now everyone is doing it, and you get a little more action.
The story of the first round throughout the league has been violence and more violence, with cries of unfair decisions coming from Brendan Shanahan, the league's discipline czar. There have been as many, if not more, suspensions in one round of 2012 playoff hockey than there were all of last season.
And Alzner has a point. Professional sports organizations are typically copycats. When a particular team has success at something, people often jump on board. So when the Bruins won the Stanley Cup through grit, hustle and toughness, the league was put on notice.
When they bloodied the mouths of the far more talented Vancouver Canucks a year ago, many of the less naturally-gifted squads were given hope...and everyone knuckled up.
It's a phenomenon we've seen in other sports, whether it be the facsimiles of the 49ers' West Coast offense in the '90s NFL, or even the Moneyball A's—success breeds imitators.
Even Alzner himself is getting in on the action. Not exactly known for being a brawler, the 23-year-old defenseman tousled with Milan Lucic in Monday's Game 3, giving the the Bruins forward a "crybaby" gesture after the two were separated.
He's since retracted his gesture, but we'll get to see his theory—and Lucic's reaction—in action tonight as the Bruins attempt to take a 3-1 series lead.
Good luck, Mr. Alzner.