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Hockey’s coming back to the ‘Peg:

The True North Sports and Entertainment group announced on Tuesday that they have completed a deal to purchase the Atlanta Thrashers and move them to Winnipeg in time for the 2011-12 season.

And, right on target with the wish-I-could-punch-him asinine comment is Gary Bettman:

“Hockey in Canada has never been stronger,” said Bettman. “We get to be back in a place we wish had not left in 1996.

Considering the source, that’s rich.

Meanwhile, Vancouver kicks off the Stanley Cup Final against Boston tonight, aiming to not only kick some serious Bruin ass, but to bring the Cup home to Canada for the first time since the Habs did it in ’93. And with history on their side and the stronger record, I see no reason why they shouldn’t pull it off.

Go Canada!

ETA: If you’re American and reading this, and you happen to be a bit confused about this whole hockey thing, Pete McMartin wrote you a primer.


On Chara-gate


By now, everyone in Montreal, Beantown and everywhere in between knows about the ugly hit by Zdeno Chara that landed Max Pacioretty in the hospital with a possible career-ending fractured vertebra and concussion:

It still hurts to re-watch. And not just because we all know the outcome.

With the news that no discipline would be forthcoming from the NHL, Montreal fans – understandably – went a little nuts, demanding justice, decrying the NHL, and calling for heads to roll.

On the hit: It was ugly, that’s unquestionable. It was illegal, that’s also unquestionable, and Chara got a game misconduct for it. It was frightening to watch, because we know how it turned out. And it was part of a high-energy, high-speed game, delivered by a guy who isn’t known for using his size to injure but certainly has it in him. And the fact that Pacioretty was having his breakout season and playing first-line solid hockey only made it that much harder of a blow to absorb.

On intent: Did Chara mean to hurt Pacioretty? He says no. I’m inclined to believe him, with a caveat: I think that, within the context of hockey, he was trying to get back at Pacioretty and this was a continuation of the feud that they had going on for a few games. In other words, I don’t think this was just an accidental check gone wrong. Since a Habs-Bruins playoff matchup is a strong possibility, I’d even allow that teams start to play dirty and there’s some intent to injure going on with good players. But it’s not the same as intent to injure, off-ice, and I’m sure that’s what has the league wringing its hands at how to mete out punishment.

On bias: Mike Murphy had to make this call because Colin Campbell was biased, what with his son Gregory playing for Boston. This isn’t the first time that Campbell has needed to recuse himself from a disciplinary decision, either. I still think he should have resigned the minute his son made it to the NHL. But it does argue that there’s too much discretion in these kinds of disciplinary decisions. Either way, the rules need to be clearer, and there can’t be so much in the hands of one man.

On criminal prosecution: Nope, don’t agree with it here. Despite the massive public pressure and outcry in the wake of the NHL’s decision not to suspend Chara (and seriously, people, tying up the 9-1-1 line for hockey? Not cool.) I don’t believe that there’s any place for criminal charges in hockey, unless the incident was outside the boundaries of the game and crossed the line to something else entirely. Trying to get the courts involved is just another way of absolving the NHL of responsibility for this kind of stuff. It happens within the parameters of the game, which makes it the NHL’s responsibility.

On violence in hockey: Is the game too violent? Is there too much fighting? Should we make them all wear bubbles and carry sticks made out of foam? Hell no. I like my hockey fast-paced, hard-hitting and tough, and I suspect most of the league’s fans do too. But there’s a difference between a clean hit and a dirty one, and that’s where I think the system is broken.

The bottom line: If you rob a store and wave a gun around only meaning to scare the clerk, but you accidentally shoot him, sorry, you’re going down for murder.

Likewise, I think the rule should be simple in hockey: If you injure a guy on an illegal play, accident or not, you’re out as long as he is. If he misses the season, so do you. If you end his career, you’re gone too.

Implement this rule, enforce it a few times so the players understand it’s serious, and watch the ugly headshots disappear like magic.

Speedy recovery, Patches.


The hockey team we deserve


Well, the Habs are down 3-0 against the Bruins, and the season is a hair’s breath from over. But, watching from the reds this evening, I couldn’t even work my way up to being upset about it. From the minute the sellout crowd booed loudly and rudely through the U.S. National Anthem, I knew it […]

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Bring on the Flyers


Philly beat Washington in overtime in tonight’s game 7 to win the first round and advance, ending the Caps’ Cinderella-like late season run in the process. The game was won on the powerplay after a controversial penalty call that really raises serious questions about the quality of the officiating in the playoffs in general. I […]

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It sounds like we won the Stanley Cup out there, with all the horns honking and people partying in the streets. But no, all we did was win round 1 to advance to round 2. Not that it was easy, mind you. The Bruins battled back against all expectations and took us to a game […]

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The only thing worse than being a loser is being a quitter. The Habs completely quit tonight – on each other, on their team, on their coach and on their fans. They gave up. Therefore, they choked. Andrei Markov’s exasperated shrug on the powerplay late in the third said it all. In case that message […]

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In Brief


Does anyone really still believe that Mugabe will go quietly? Didn’t think so. Here we go again: The construction on St-Laurent launches full steam ahead into round 2… as though round 1 wasn’t a strong enough demonstration of the city’s incompetence. Duh alert: Allophones have a harder time getting jobs than Francophones do in Quebec. […]

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Dramatic finish


The Habs’ powerplay goal with 1.2 seconds left to lift us 3-2 over the Bruins was the kind of last-second move that traditionally would always happen against us. Sign of a turnaround this season? Sure hope so! (Oh, and WOOHOO!!!)

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Now that’s class


Last night’s game was fun to watch. It’s not over yet for the Habs. But perhaps almost more notable than the game itself was how the Boston crowd reacted to the Canadian national anthem. In light of the recent booing of the US anthem at the two Bell Centre games, a notice was posted in […]

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