A player sees the puck far away at the other end of the rink, and moves to rejoin the play. Another player, for some unknown slight, takes it upon himself to check our original player from behind with the result that the checkee's head slams into the boards. Now, take away those last four words. The more Leaf-astute of you may already have deduced what I'm referring to, but for those of you who are not, I believe that, last night, we were lucky Tomas Kaberle did not join Ace Bailey in having his career brutally cut short as the result of an unpenalised hit. Bailey was hit by Eddie Shore as retaliation for a hit Shore himself had received earlier, a reason reprehensible enough as it is, but we may never know the real reason Cam Janssen's mind goaded him into attacking Kaberle.
Janssen claims that he was just finishing his check, and that "I've got to take the body and I did"; in another situation, that would be explanation enough. We accept it's the job of defensemen and tough guys to agitate and enforce around the ice, and if they can intimidate a dangerous opponent it gives the whole team a boost as a result. But it is no-one's job to see a player who's noticably behind the run of the play and decide to nail them solely because they're one of the opponent's best players - Andrew Raycroft got it spot on when he said that the hit itself wasn't the problem, it was the fact it was ten seconds late that triggered such outrage. Janssen might not think he did anything wrong with the hit, but few players can truly be this dense, and it's this that earns him the second "F" grade. He joins Andrew Peters as the perpetrator of tremendous faggotry.
Ironically, Janssen's assault seemed to have the opposite effect to what it was intended. While it took Kaberle out of the game, it ended up giving the Leafs the supercharge he no doubt wanted the Devils to take on. Matt Stajan, Carlo Colaiacovo and Nik Antropov all scored to put Toronto ahead 3-2 and, even though Sergei Brylin tied it with a powerplay goal, Yanic Perreault went some way to justifying his cost with a goal in the ensuing shootout and Jeff O'Neill put in the winner. So what do you attribute this to? Was it karma biting the Devils in the ass for Janssen's hit going unpenalised - I doubt it, but I'd like to think so. There are some other observations I made, some of them disturbing in nature.
1) The referees continue to operate above a glass ceiling that we common folk can't break. Neither of the two referees saw fit to call Janssen for his late hit - I don't quite know what a late hit constitutes, but my guess is probably interference - nor penalise him for causing the injury; however, they then refused to be interviewed by the press after the game, knowing full well they'd be torn to pieces for missing something that severe, and the likelihood is that they'll never be brought to task for it. Worse yet, there's a very distinct possibility that Janssen won't even receive a suspension for his actions from someone like Colin Campbell, meaning while we have Kaberle out for an undefined amount of time, the Devils walk away from the incident scot-free.
2) The boys done good. Stajan and Cola scored, Woz and White had assists.
3) The dangerous precedent of the title is too close for comfort. While I can't say anything without it being speculation now, if Janssen goes either unpunished or gets off lightly, we have problems. If he goes unpunished, then all future occurances of something like this have to bear Janssen's mishandled case withBertuzzi's mishandled case as well. If he gets off lightly, it sets a benchmark that will make the league's enforcers not be too concerned with official retributions if they go out and injure a team's stars.
4) I find it funny that Darcy Tucker - scratched for the game due to injury - took it upon himself to talk to Janssen. A fellow Leaf opined that he was making threats of pain to come to the Devil, whereas a Senator claimed Tucker was asking him out to lunch and a Duck swore he was asking for tips. Me? I like the threats angle myself, it gives the impression that there's real team spirit (or it could be that they've taken to contracting their hits out to other teams. If that's ever proven right I want full credit for calling it).
5) Martin Brodeur still has a losing record against us. I only picked that titbit of information myself up yesterday, apparently he has a record above .500 against every team bar Toronto and Vancouver. Who knew?