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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Cold Hard Rants--Bonus Edition

NB: This is a bonus rant, in light of last night’s hit on Dean McAmmond by the coward Steve Downie. For your regularly scheduled Cold Hard Rant, this week dealing with the coverage of exhibition hockey, please scroll down a little.

In baseball, when you throw at a batter in retaliation, the player’s unwritten code of conduct says you aim for a fleshy part of the body. You don’t throw at someone’s head. You bruise, you don’t maim. In football, it’s considered uncouth to take out someone at the knees when they are unsuspecting. Hit a guy in the face, where they can see it coming as opposed to blowing out a knee that can end someone’s career. Even though I know next to nothing about basketball, I presume there is a code of conduct in that one player’s posse doesn’t shoot at another’s posse—or at least they don’t shoot to kill, only wound.

Last night in front of a capacity crowd posing as row after row after row of empty seats, the NHL player code of conduct was violated by a nobody who brutally, illegally, and heinously injuring a fellow NHL player. I am of course speaking of Steve Downie’s hit on Dean McAmmond. Now, before you go accusing me as a sissy-boy who doesn’t understand hockey and who needed the FoxTrax to follow the puck, know that I do understand hockey (even if I dislike the NHL) and additionally there is very little in sports that gets me infuriated anymore. More often than not, I simply make a snide and insincere remark and move on. Prior to yesterday, the only other issue that got me infuriated in hockey was Todd Bertuzzi’s assault on Steve Moore (more on that in next week’s Cold Hard Rants.) That changed when Downie took his run, left his feet, and delivered an elbow to McAmmond’s head with a vicious disregard for the damage he was inflicting. If it was a clean hit performed within the rules, I would applaud him, and not be writing this, but it wasn’t, and it was done solely because Downie was embarrassed that he had gotten hit a moment before.

The television talking heads like to refer to Downie as an energy player who always plays on the edge. Bull, I say. Downie is a cheap player, a dirty player, and one who cannot succeed on his skill set alone (for a basketball comparison please see Bowen, Bruce.) Downie was embarrassed that his lack of skill was exposed for all to see by another player on the ice, and rather than proving the people wrong by performing a hockey activity that demonstrates that indeed he does have an ample skill set, he did the only thing he knew how to do well, and that is cheat. With no regard for the unwritten code of conduct that this was a meaningless exhibition game and that Dean McAmmond is a veteran player simply trying to get his game legs underneath him for the start of the regular season and MEANINGFUL games, Downie decided he needed to do whatever it took, consequences to Dean McAmmond be damned, to get his name in the spotlight.

Much like Bruce Bowen in San Antonio kneeing players, and deliberately sticking his feet under jump shooters, Downie is doing whatever it takes to stay in the NHL by making a name for himself irregardless of what context that name is held. For whatever reason there will always be room in any league for a dirty player like Steve Downie and he has realized early on in his career that he cannot succeed and sustain a career for himself in the NHL by playing the game within the rules. Much like Bruce Bowen realized this about his potential for a career in the NBA, Steve Downie has made a conscious decision that in order to succeed he must do so by any means necessary. Even if those means end up putting an unsuspecting veteran in the hospital.

All I can say to Steve Downie is that when your medicine is handed out to you by Brian McGrattan, and whomever else on the Senators is able to get their hands on you, I hope you stand there and take it. Based on the cowardly actions you have engaged in thus far in your career, I suspect you won’t, and at the end of the day that’s the worst part of a cowardly player; they are cowards through and through, and refuse to answer for their actions.

For Illegal Curve, I am Andrew M.

About the writer: Formerly a speech writer for a Canadian Federal Politician, Andrew will be bringing his unique take on the hockey world to the illegal curve blog once a week, or more often if the rage needs to be released in a manner other than clobbering a referee over the head with a whiskey bottle. Mainly because he doesn’t have enough empty whiskey bottles at his disposal.

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