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article imageOp-Ed: Daniel Sedin hit draws moronic remarks from Hartley, Brian Burke

By Marcus Hondro     Apr 15, 2014 in Sports
Here's the thing about hits from behind, hits near the boards and on the numbers: it's a crap shoot. The player being hit might skate away unharmed or, like so many have, be severely concussed.
A message should have been sent to Calgary Flames forward Paul Byron for his hit on Daniel Sedin in their season-ending game on Sunday. But Byron will go unpunished. Or at least they will be nothing beyond the five and a game he was given by the refs.
The obviously good news here is that it appears Daniel Sedin, despite it looking otherwise, is going to be okay. He appeared at a season-ending press conference and said as much. "I hit my head on the glass," Daniel said. "I tried to lift my head, but couldn't get it off the ice. I thought: lay still. I was scared. I felt something wasn't right. I couldn't lift my head off the ice. It feels okay today."
Daniel Sedin lucky on Byron hit
It could have turned out differently. Had it would there be a suspension? While it wasn't as hard as, for example, the hit that knocked Patrice Bergeron out for almost a year with a grade 3 concussion in 2007, what Byron did to Sedin was much the same as what Randy Jones did to Bergeron (Jones got but 2 games). Byron hit him less than two feet from the boards and right in the back of the numbers. It could have been worse, so many similar hits have been.
That Bob Hartley, Calgary's coach, would argue against a five-minute penalty, is indeed, as Canuck coach John Tortorella suggested, indicative that Mr. Hartley's tactics are bush. So is his statement that it was a hockey play you see "10 or 15" times a game. The president of his hockey team, the increasingly odd Brian Burke, backed him on that.
"Our coach acted completely appropriately last night and Torts oughta keep his mouth shut," Burke spewed. "Apparently what outraged him was the cardinal sin of our coach arguing for a penalty while Daniel Sedin was being tended to on the ice.
"Paul Byron hit him. We think it's a hockey play. We don't think it's worth five minutes. We don't think it's worth further review. Call a five-minute penalty because the player is hurt, that's fine with us."
Let's pause to note that Burke is the guy who gave Gary Suter a mere 4 games for cross-checking Paul Kariya, putting Kariya out for most of a season, the Olympics and, by Kariya's estimation, seriously impacting the rest of his career. Why did Suter hit him so viciously? He was angry because Kariya had just scored a goal. Four games.
Brian Burke: hockey dinosaur
That was in 1997 and Burke has learned little since. Indeed, his comments about the Byron hit suggest he's missed the past decade or more. Stop signs on the back of the uniforms of kids in hockey, obsessive concern about concussions, time given to teaching NHL players about respect for one another, all of that and more.
The biggest thing all of that is geared toward is stopping players, at all levels, from hitting players from behind into the boards. If you can see their number, the mantra in hockey now is - don't hit. There have been legions of suspensions at all levels of hockey in North America and Europe after hits exactly like Byron's. It doesn't seem plausible Brian Burke really believes Byron's hit was a "hockey play." A hockey play a couple of decades ago, unhappily, but not, happily, now.
Byron's hit was textbook. Not even sideways, those numbers were facing him directly and Daniel Sedin was just in front of the boards, in as vulnerable position as Patrice Bergeron was, as a player can be. Why, some were asking on Sports Net Connected after the game that night, are players like Byron in the NHL continuing to disrespect one another, that despite all those efforts to foster more respect?
Because this league continues to be erratic when it comes to suspensions, that is part of it. And because coaches like Mr. Hartley, and others like the dinosaur Mr. Burke continue to play partisan hockey — even in a season-ending game between two non-playoff teams — and ignore the dangers in favor of the endless repetition of talking points intended to selfishly deny blame.
Maybe Paul Byron isn't the only who needs to be sent a message.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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