Friday, April 4, 2008

I hate you, Mark Bell

The Sens beat the Leafs 8-2 last night. As important as that win was for the Sens' playoff hopes, if it comes at a cost of Daniel Alfredsson and Mike Fisher then it might be all for nought. A playoff run without those two players, even if they're only gone for the first round, might end long before we'd all like it to.

While Fisher's leg injury looked to be more the unfortunate fallout of a normal-looking hit, Alfredsson went out after a dirty hit from Mark Bell in the first period, which gave Alfie his 'upper body' injury (although hopefully not a concussion) as well as knee problems. The Bell his has been called an elbow to the head, but you'll have to watch it to judge for yourself whether or not it was legal.

Everyone is speaking in terms of a clean/dirty dichotomoy, which isn't the issue, in my opinion. No matter how you cut it, this was a dirty hit--as was the hit Chris Neil threw on Chris Drury last season, which everyone is comparing it to. They were both blind-side hits to players in vulnerable postions, which resulted in injuries.

The real issue, however, is the legality/illegality of the hit. If you do believe that Bell's elbow was contained, and it appears it was, then the hit shouldn't have been an elbowing penalty. It was, however, a blatant intent to injure. Yes, players aren't trying to make friends and they are trying to make their opponents feel a bit of pain, but there is a difference between knocking a guy down or knocking a guy off the puck and intentionally trying to injure a player. It all comes back to the respect factor that retired players continue to say is lacking in today's game.

More important than the intent to injure, however, was the fact that this was a hit to the head. A fourth-line player with nothing to offer the league but bad public relations laid a devastating hit on a perennial all-star winger. The league wants it's skilled players to showcase their abilities, and they can't have hacks like Bell throwing hits to the head--whether the hits are with their elbows or their shoulders. If the league really wants to cut down on injuries, they need to cut down on hits to the head.

Plus Bell decided that injuring the captain wasn't enough; he had to go after an assistant captain, too. After the hit on Alfredsson, Bell threw his stick into the feet of Wade Redden while Reds was chasing down an icing call. Bell was nowhere near being able to beat Redden to the puck, and he lashed his stick out directly into Redden's feet, knocking the defenceman down hard into the boards with a trip. Whether or not you like the way Redden's been playing this season, he still eats all sorts of minutes and is valuable for the Sens' team. Another gutless play from a guy running around with the confidence of a full face-shield protecting him fom any repercussions.

I understand that it was most important to get the two points on the night, I was a little disappointed someone didn't go after Bell once the game was out of hand. Although it's difficult to punch a guy wearing a cage, it offers a pretty handy place to get a grip on him and toss him around a bit. If Mike Commodore had grabbed the mask and tried to rip it off, then fed Bell's injured chin a few shots, it would have been a little easier to swallow this morning. But I guess we get to live with the fact that Bell's probably just frustrated that he'll get his in the slammer.
Blog Widget by LinkWithin