Interesting that a couple of Quebec-born NHL legends stand on opposite ends of the hockey spectrum today.
In this corner, we have Blackhawks coach Denis Savard, who lashed out at the relentless amount of cheap shots taken at his young stars during Chicago’s 4-3 win over St. Louis Sunday.
“Our game is a great game; let's keep it that way,” Savard said. “We have two young kids (Chicago’s Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews) who are playing their hearts out. If it's [Pittsburgh's Sidney] Crosby or [Evgeni] Malkin, I don't see any difference. We have to protect them.”
On the other side of matters is former Canadiens and Avalanche goalie – and current coach of the Quebec Major Junior League’s Quebec Remparts – Patrick Roy, who (once again) finds himself embroiled in controversy thanks to an ugly in-game incident.
This time, though, the incident also involved Roy’s son, Jonathan, a goaltender for the Remparts who was front and center in an on-ice brawl that included the young goalie classily saluting the crowd with one of his middle fingers.
“I can't control the reactions of my players in the heat of action,” Patrick Roy said after the melee. “That's part of the game.”
So there you have it – one coach/ex-player recognizes the desperate need for hockey to protect its most valuable and limited resources, while another shrugs off any shred of responsibility and lays blame at the feet of the game that has made him a multi-millionaire.
I’m sure regular readers of this space can guess which of the two I agree with. But it goes to show you that any initiative the NHL might take in curbing the gong shows that take place at too many of its games must be accompanied by similar initiatives in the junior, college and minor hockey ranks.
In other words, it’s the culture that needs fixing, not one particular league, coach or player. If we don’t approach the issue with as grand a scope as possible, we’ll be stuck watching the same old boring stereotypes play out year after year after year, while more and more people turn away from the sport in disgust.
Adam Proteau is The Hockey News' online columnist and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Mondays and Wednesdays, his Ask Adam feature appears Tuesdays and Fridays, and his column, Screen Shots, appears Thursdays.
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