Red Wings-Blackhawks: The Fix Was In—NHL Ensures a Game Five, at Least

Greg Eno@@GregEnoSenior Analyst IMay 23, 2009

CHICAGO - MAY 22:  Dustin Byfuglien #33 of the Chicago Blackhawks is restrained as he yells at Niklas Kronwall #55 of the Detroit Red Wings after Kronwall delievered a hard check on Martin Havlat #24  (C lying on the ice being tended to by medical personnel) of the Blackhawks during Game Three of the Western Conference Championship Round of the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs on May 22, 2009 at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jim Prisching/Getty Images)

Go ahead and accuse me of homerism—and I don’t mean a man crush on Tomas Holmstrom.

Ignore the following as bleatings from a partisan. Shake your head, and say that my grapes are as sour as Dick Cheney’s puss. I don’t care.

The Red Wings lost a hockey game in Chicago on Friday night, and can you blame them?

They were playing five-on-seven all night.

It wasn’t enough that the two referees got their jollies by watching the Red Wings play just about the entire first period shorthanded. They also seemed to forget that hockey is a contact sport.

Niklas Kronwall just about killed Marty Havlat last night, but it was perfectly legal.

Legal to everyone, apparently, except for Gary Bettman’s minions wearing the zebra stripes and orange arm bands.

Havlat looked dead, literally, when the Versus cameras cut to show his seemingly lifeless face, with the eyes rolled back into his head.

It was Concrete Charlie Bednarik, hockey style.

Bednarik was the Philadelphia Eagle who hit Frank Gifford of the Giants so hard in 1960 that a few of the Giffer’s teammates thought ol' Chuck killed handsome Frank.

No joke.

Kyle Rote of the Giants, who was on the field, mere feet away from the violent collision, recalling the hit, later said, “I thought Frank was dead. I really did. Chuck hit him that hard.”

I think I know how Rote felt.

Havlat was laid out. Pancaked. Destroyed. Killed, almost.


The Kronwall hit—and the Versus guys plus the Canucks on Hockey Night In Canada admitted as much—was completely within the rules. Kronwall never left his feet. Didn’t go for Havlat’s head.

Yet not only was Kronwall whistled for a penalty, they threw the book at him. Tossed him into the locker room, and threw away the key.

A five minute major plus a game misconduct.

The shame of it was that it didn’t appear to be called a penalty initially. But then the refs held a kangaroo court and convicted Kronwall, right there on the ice.

Then the Red Wings, already down 2-0, busted their tails to kill off the unjust major only to be called for a phantom penalty immediately thereafter.

By the time the Red Wings enjoyed a man advantage, they were trailing 3-0 and all seemed lost.

Bettman’s minions in stripes and arm bands seemed to be successful in ensuring that this series go at least five games, if not longer.

But the Red Wings, showing the heart of champions, rallied.

They scored three goals late in the second period in the same amount of time, it seemed, that you can watch that ShamWow! commercial.

Bettman’s minions must have been getting nervous.

The fix was in for Game Three. If you’re going to defend it, then tell it to the judge. I’ll see you in court.

To show you my fairness, I’ll inform you that I didn’t think the Red Wings would win Game Three. It’s a tough one to get, when you’re the favorite going into the underdog’s building with a 2-0 series lead.

I just didn’t think the outcome had been determined during the team’s bus ride from the hotel to the rink.

Bettman’s minions gave every call to the Blackhawks, especially in the first period. It was laughable, almost, how unjust things were on the United Center ice surface.

A Red Wings player would get held, mugged, or otherwise impeded, and there’d be no call.

Conversely, if you so much as looked at Patrick Kane or Jonathan Toews cross-eyed, you were whistled, if you wore the blood-red and white of Detroit.

Highway robbery. Series shaving. A fix. Take your pick.

If I was a member of the Blackhawks, I wouldn't show off that victory too much, because it's stolen goods.

They did it all to the Red Wings last night except kidnap their wives and girlfriends.

Speaking of which, don’t allow the ladies into the rink on Sunday. Just in case.

All that and the Red Wings still could have won Game Three.

It would have been worth it to see the looks of defeat on the faces of the Blackhawks.

And on the crooked mugs of Gary Bettman’s minions in stripes and arm bands.


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