There is still fallout coming from Saturday’s hockey game between the Boston Bruins and the Pittsburgh Penguins. James Neal has been handed a five game suspension for his hit on Brad Marchand (a penalty that Penguins GM Roy Shero believes is appropriate and fair), and were all waiting to see what fate will befall Shawn Thornton for his jumping Brooks Orpik and pummeling him to the ice. With obvious tensions on both sides, I thought I’d look for an opinion of someone who has been on both sides of the argument and can offer a clear line.
I found Rick Tocchet, who played for both the Penguins(1991-94) and the Bruins(1995-97). Tocchet seems to be on both sides here with his argument. He believes that Orpik did not deserve what happened to him (and neither do I), but Oprik maybe should have dropped the gloves to have defused the tension from his early hit against Loui Eriksson that started the bad blood flowing early.
“I love Brooks and the way he plays,” Tocchet said in Pittsburgh to the media. “But, when you play on the edge the way he does, I personally think that you should fight, at least occasionally. I don’t think Brooks is a dirty player at all, but when you play that style, you’re going to have some borderline hits on occasion. They’re impossible to ignore. So I think it would serve him well to fight some of the time.”
When asked if he thought that fighting reduces dirty hits, the eighteen year NHL veteran and former head coach was up front with his opinion.
“I truly do,” he said. “Look at what happened last night. You know coming into the game that Boston is sensitive because [Bruins' blueliner Johnny] Boychuk just got hurt [in the Montreal game]. And you know the Penguins and Bruins don’t like each other. So when you hit one of their best players on the first shift, even though the hit was totally clean, you know things could get nasty.”
If you watched the game, or even the highlights, you saw just how nasty things got.