NHL Senior Vice President of Hockey Operation Mike Murphy insisted on Wednesday that both the Canucks and Bruins stop the finger waving, to the point that he has labelled such actions as "garbage" and instituted a new 2 +10 penalty that will result in such actions taking place on the ice. Murphy's new ruling is fair, and he is right to classify taunting as a "garbage" play that has no place in hockey. There should be no issue with this statement, and even the invention of a new penalty in order to get such actions out of what has been a thrilling Stanley Cup Final thus far.
However, the timing of such statements by Murphy, and the league as a whole, are extremely hypocritical and only emphasize the ineptitude that has been spewing out of the league office in recent memory. Murphy wanting to get taunting out of the game is fine but why was there no action taken when Maxim LaPierre began this entire embarrassment? The league certainly could have come out with a memo after Game 2 stating that such actions will not be tolerated and fined LaPierre. They could have reprimanded the Sedin brothers after they introduced Alex Burrows as their vegetarian line-mate in a local interview that further the mocked the entire situation. But they chose not to. Instead, they waited until after Game 3 and the responses by Bruins forwards Mark Recchi and Milan Lucic. Only after the Bruins taunted back did Mike Murphy choose to label such an action as "garbage".
In fact, the entire escalation of the taunting in this series is due to a lack of response and an inability to take any responsibility for Canucks winger Alexandre Burrows' bite of Bruins center Patrice Bergeron in Game 1 of the series. Instead of the NHL making the proper decision to suspend, or even fine Burrows, they decided that biting in the NHL is a non issue even when rules clearly state that biting is an automatic suspension. However, such blatant disrespect for the NHL (and professional sports in general) was not enough to elicit any sort of response from the league office. The bite was not labelled "garbage" by Mike Murphy; apparently finger waving is much more gruesome...but only when the Bruins do it.
Somebody ought to wave a finger in the face of Mike Murphy on Wednesday morning, not for wanting to ban taunting but for creating the situation through his incompetence. The NBA and Commissioner David Stern are often criticized for overreacting to situations and being too quick to make judgement. However, at least the NBA is consistent. The NHL has shown no consistency whatsoever in levying punishments in this championship series, and in doing so they have created a laughable situation in which a player can bite someone and receive not so much as a fine, but a response from the team who was bit and taunted first is then called "garbage" by a league official.
And where has Gary Bettman been in all of this action? He has seemingly not made a single public statement regarding any of the the issues taking place in this series, and as Commissioner of the NHL he has not done his game any justice at all for it. He has left all of the decisions up to a man who is working in a temporary position for the biggest series of the season. The only comparison that can be made is likening such actions to Adam Silver deciding the outcome of the NBA Finals and David Stern going on hiatus for the entire series.
Even worse is that the on ice product will likely suffer as a result. It would surprise nobody to see a tight, highly involved game from the officials tonight, a result that strongly favors the Canucks and their stellar powerplay. It would be a shame to see this series suffer a result over officiating, but that is not out of the realm of possibility in the slightest. It is a shame that Mike Murphy has interjected himself into the series as much as he has, especially when he could have avoided this entire mess by taking the proper action on Alex Burrows' actions. The only "garbage" in this series is Mike Murphy, Gary Bettman, and the NHL front office for their inability to handle such simple matters, and mark my words the rest of the Stanley Cup Final will be worse for it.