Lots of blame for the Jets-Leafs gong show


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Opinion



It’s been over 48 hours since the gong stopped ringing at the Canada Life Center and the Winnipeg Jets and Toronto Maple Leafs were sent to their locker rooms to reflect on what they had done. But that didn’t stop the noise from continuing.

A quick social media scan reveals a tire fire raging right now. I will try to quickly summarize the respective positions for you. The Jets are the dirtiest team to ever play, a bunch of skate assassins who should be kicked out of the NHL. And the Maple Leafs are the biggest collection of whiners ever, determined to chase heads with violence.

Pierre-Luc Dubois (left) takes on Leafs forward Auston Matthews.

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Fred Greenslade / The Canadian Press

Pierre-Luc Dubois (left) takes on Leafs forward Auston Matthews.

There is no gray area, no room for nuance. It is a clear case of good versus evil, of sinners versus saints. Who plays the respective roles is entirely based on the team you are rooting for.

Pierre-Luc Dubois is either a hero or a villain for riding Auston Matthews as if he was Secretariat during a strange MMA-style melee in the third period. Neal Pionk is either an angel or a devil for a knee-to-knee hit on Rasmus Sandin who sidelined the Toronto defender. Jason Spezza deserves either a medal or being sent to the gallows for a subsequent hit on Pionk that put him in a concussion protocol. Wayne Simmonds is either a caped crusader or a coward for chasing Josh Morrissey. Logan Stanley is a prince or an outcast for his fiery defense of his teammates and his spirited celebration.

You get the picture. It is not pretty.

Fred Greenslade / La Presse Canadienne</p><p>Wayne Simmonds of Toronto was determined to punish the Jets.</p>

Fred Greenslade / The Canadian Press

Wayne Simmonds of Toronto was determined to punish the Jets.

No matter where your bias lies, here’s an indisputable truth emerging from Sunday’s fiery affair: As much as it represents a well-deserved black eye for hockey – Sandin and Pionk are indefinitely injured, Pionk got a two suspension. games, Spezza was given a six-game suspension and Simmonds was given the maximum fine – the reaction from the respective fans could be even more embarrassing than anything that happened on the ice.

Normally I hate giving oxygen to Keyboard Warriors and Anonymous Trolls. It is usually best to allow them to scream into the void in their small echo chamber. But the hyperbole has become so voluminous and so vitriolic that it is impossible to ignore it.

“We will gladly lose the second leg 8-0 as long as three of their starters are off on stretchers. Lacrimal ligaments. “I hope (Kyle) Clifford hits Dubois in the face, I don’t care if Clifford is suspended for the rest of the season,” said another.

This is just the tip of the Twitter iceberg. One of the dozens of people who responded to the official Winnipeg Jets message about Pionk suffering from a concussion simply replied, “Good. He deserved it ”. “Stay out of the kitchen if you can’t stand the heat,” another heart-loving Leafs fan wrote. “You reap what you sow,” said a third. There were the expected secular slurs about Winnipeg even as the sump quickly began to overflow.

To be clear, some Jets fans don’t have their hands clean either. Many gave as much as they had, as the war of words escalated by the minute. My mute button was the subject of a workout on Monday and Tuesday as the threads I was sort of included in exploded to ridiculous levels. If only people could get excited about the issues that really matter in life.

I found it interesting to hear Travis Hamonic’s agent, the pride of Saint-Malo, Man., Explain last week why he thinks so many hockey players have Canadian cities on their no-trade list. Kevin Epp was mainly pointing the finger at the media – he was talking specifically about the Vancouver market – and suggesting that they revel in the negative. But he also repeated a narrative that has been whispered by others in recent years that the rise of social media and the toxic tone it often takes scares many would-be free agents.

We saw a smoldering example of that here last spring, when Mark Scheifele became Public Enemy No.1 in the eyes of Montreal fans after a dirty blow sent Canadiens forward Jake Evans on a stretcher. Scheifele, who was suspended for four games, spoke tearfully after the fact about the online harassment of many of his family in Ontario. The off-ice display ended up being uglier than what happened in the game itself.

And now comes this last dark chapter. It’s a shame, as the game itself between Winnipeg and Toronto was very entertaining, with tons of talent on display and plenty of offense and excitement. It made some fans salivate at the idea of ​​a future playoff meeting between the two organizations. Frankly, I fear that such an event is enough to trigger a civil war.

I would suggest that all of this shows why the type of shenanigans that unfolded on Sunday are never really going to be eliminated from the sport. It’s too ingrained in so-called “hockey culture”, especially in this country where sport can bring out the best, but also the worst, in people.

This goes for the players and the coaches themselves, who haven’t really organized a classroom clinic. Yep, I’m looking at you Sheldon Keefe, who basically admitted after the game that he sent his toughest players on the boards with the idea of ​​sending a message and fixing what he saw as wrongs. Memo to the NHL: Haven’t we learned a lesson from the whole Todd Bertuzzi / Steve Moore scandal in Vancouver, that premeditated violence is never the answer and would result in stiff penalties.

Considering Keefe’s frankness, where is his suspension and / or his fine? Leafs forward William Nylander also poured a jerry can of gasoline into Hell on Tuesday, suggesting the payback would be a you-know-what when the teams meet again in Toronto on March 31. … We’ll see what happens then. ”

Just curious, but when is the hearing for referees Brad Meier and Reid Anderson? They let the madness take over when they inexplicably looked at each other and swallowed their whistles over the Pionk-Sandin and Pionk-Spezza incidents. Perhaps the Gambling Concussion Watcher should also be called to the mat for not having Pionk shot for observation after clearly taking a knee to the head.

Yes, there is a lot of criticism to be made. And the fans who continue to fuel the fire are right at the top of the list. As long as they keep banging the gong, I’ll keep beating the drum.

[email protected]: @mikemcintyrewpg

Mike McIntyre

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