A player feels a stick on his body and drops like a ton of bricks, drawing a penalty—the crowd goes wild.
A player gets hauled from a scrum, saved by a linesman, and visibly wipes his hands with the opposing team’s bench as he’s ejected from the game—the crowd goes wild.
After a half-week of a single consistent narrative (epicenter Boston and Toronto) painting the Vancouver Canucks as whining, diving, showboating, classless players, you’d be right to assume the above was attributable to a Henrik or Daniel Sedin, or an Alex Burrows, or a Max Lapierre.
But it was Rich Peverley and Brad Marchand.
We won’t be hearing any stories today on the classless Bruins, count on it.
And that’s just fine.
But it’s a one-way street indeed, let's be clear and call it as we see it.
Max Lapierre holds up a few fingers and smiles and the world erupts. The Vancouver Canucks are about to disgrace the long and pristine history of the Stanley Cup, simply by touching it with their grubby, blood-stained hands and checkered shady history.
Andrew Ference fingers the crowd in Montreal and no one mentions anything about class, anything about integrity, anything about anything.
Nathan Horton, the world’s most tragic victim since Mark David Chapman shot Lennon, throws a water bottle at a fan in Tampa Bay and there’s a rumbling of a suspension, gritted through teeth because "Hey, it’s all fun and games—no one was hurt and it’s the entertainment business."
All fine and good, you won’t find a disagreement here. In fact, this column agrees with it fully.
But then that Max Lapierre and his glove, held aloft—eye level to Patrice Bergeron—and that smile.
That damn smile.
Too much, it was just too much to handle.
Then the Sedin’s, two players who have historically taken more physical abuse than any two human beings who have ever lived, and who aren’t accustomed to mixing things up between whistles, handle themselves poorly and drop easier than most after some shoves and shots from the always classy Boston Bruins.
“These guys are so soft they’re un-classy, because look at what they do when we’re take cheap shots at them—they drop like a ton of bricks!”
Pot, meet the kettle. Your table is ready.
Make no mistake, there is no argument or call here for a change in the way the Boston Bruins play their game. This, from a Canucks follower who has come to terms with the fact that the Boston Bruins game—as long as it is played in this series—will always come out of the game with the win.
And, again, that's just fine.
The argument here (more like plea) is for the lunacy to stop, for the double standard to be blindfolded, shot, and buried somewhere in the backyard of hypocrisy.
It’s moronic, and it’s turned the series into an unpleasant spectacle, rather than a more dramatic one.
The Vancouver Canucks got served, plain and simple, and it wasn’t because of officiating or cheap shots or Roberto Luongo. It was a total team effort at being terrible if ever there was one, and there’s the very strong possibility that to a man they’re simply tapped out—too injured, too battered, too tired. It happens.
But the backdrop, the context laid between games, is suffocating-ly stupid and one-sided. And it's levied at a team Eastern media never watches. They're watching now, yes. But the Canucks and their detractors entered this series with their reputations made up in advance, built and cemented on the backs of a snippet here, highlight there, and a general manager who had Brian Burke charged with tampering. So on and so on.
A narrative builds and builds and becomes, in the eyes of those buying into it, a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Both teams in this series have embellished, have slashed the backs of legs, have engaged in childish theatrics.
If the Boston Bruins win the Stanley Cup, it will be because they were the better team at playing their own game. Not because they “overcame” the horrendously challenging ordeal of a man who holds up some fingers, or a set of twin’s who go down (after whistles! the jerks!) too quickly.
If the Vancouver Canucks win the Stanley Cup, it will be because they (somehow) got back to their game—speed, skill and special teams. And as the smaller, less physical team, it will probably mean it was because they battled through a more physical opponent, and that they did it with Ryan Kesler and Henrik Sedin playing on a combined two legs out of four.
These should be the stories going forward, and nothing else.
Because nothing else matters, and it never really did to begin with either.