Karma is such a beautiful word and a dangerous thing. Sometimes people will see someone they don’t like undergo a personal tragedy or disaster and go “Karma, (insert appropriate slur here).”Well, it appears the hockey gods do either embrace the concept of karma, or have a profound sense of irony. While I am a Bruins fan, I do keep track of certain players who I think are dirty. I keep them on my mental radar, especially if they’ve gone out of their way to injure a member of the Black and Gold. That being said, it’s not my place to wish harm upon them, I leave that in the care of the hockey gods.
It appears the most current victim of the hockey gods’ karma train is the Pittsburgh Penguins James Neal. James Neal is currently out of the roster indefinitely with signs of a serious concussion. There are more details from the story here. Neal, who has been a repeat offender earned his spot on my infamy list for this hit. (Neal got five games for that one.) He’s just one of those players that does something reckless and stupid and then refuses to take responsibility for it. No matter the fines or suspensions leveled against him, he still plays a very one-sided and cheap form of hockey.
I’m not alone in this criticism. While we can add thousands of either pro-Bruin or anti-Neal fans to this group, a former NHL referee has also declared his distaste for this member of the Penguins. Former NHL ref Paul Stewart blasts Neal in a blog on hockeybuzz.com. Not only does he call Neal out for his dirty hits, he calls him out for general unsportsmanlike conduct on the ice. Here’s some of the highlights:
“James Neal is not my type of hockey player. He has been involved in multiple incidents, showing reckless disregard for the safety of fellow players. Furthermore, he’s a player who has acquired the reputation for being a diver.”
“Does Neal want to be known for the points he accumulates or as someone who can’t be trusted by his own team? More and more, people don’t think of Neal first and foremost as a goal-scorer. You know how I think of him? I think of Neal as a player who has already been suspended three times in his career for dirty hits. That includes a five-game suspension earlier this season for a kneeing incident. Additionally, between his years in Dallas and Pittsburgh, he has previously been involved in least other three potentially suspendable incidents with his stick where he was fined and/or warned by the League.”
Pretty scathing stuff. I wish more refs would come out with this type of material once they took off their stripes. If you would like to read the entire article (including the part where he takes a jab at Sidney Crosby for being an ineffectual leader of his team) follow the link here