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Tell Your Code To Shut Up

From my editorial in last night’s Committed Indian.

I would really prefer it if this game I love being a fan of could like, go a whole week without embarrassing itself.

You’ve probably seen it by now, the travesty that took place last night in Boston. Hey Bruins, maybe you’d like to play a game in which a player doesn’t get taken off on a stretcher? Try it sometime.

The idiocy started when Brooks Orpik crushed Loui Eriksson with what looked to be a legal hit. As it always seems to these days, this caused Boston chapter thug Shawn Thornton to try and fight Orpik, which Orpik justifiably declined.

This is where the idiocy starts, and I’m sick of it. No player should feel like he has to fight after a clean check. There’s nothing wrong with it. But the amount of voices that will come out and blame Orpik for not following the bullshit “code” because he declined a fight is what keeps things like what followed a part of the game. And it shouldn’t be.

Turning the night’s events from just silly to despicable was Pittsburgh’s James Neal intentionally skating his knee into the back of the head of a prone Brad Marchand. Somehow, Neal only got a minor penalty for this and won’t face an in-person hearing for the clearest of headshots (Note: Neal was suspended 5 games today). How can a league that at least claims it’s trying to protect players from concussions, and is now facing a class-action lawsuit mind you on the very same subject, let this slip as some run of the mill penalty is beyond me. Actually, it’s not. It’s very NHL.

That would have been enough to turn your stomach, but then Thornton thought ot himself, “If they think that’s despicable, I’ll show them DESPICABLE.” From the scrum that ensued after the attack on Marchand, Thornton grabbed Orpik (because he had anything to do with it), slew-footed him to the ice and punched him repeatedly when he was on the ice, even after he was unconscious. This was a Bertuzzi sequel. Orpik left on a stretcher.

I’ll give Thornton a smidgen of credit for facing the media after, admitting how wrong he was, and apparently in acceptance of the book being thrown at him. Which it will be. More than Raffi Torres could muster a couple Aprils ago. But that’s not near enough.

Hockey would do well to rid itself of this supposed “code” that when not followed somehow justifies this lawlessness to some. Even following it causes mayhem.
It’s because lunatics like Thornton think “The Code” is a way of life that they go apeshit when they think it’s been soiled. What a load of bullshit. And really the only people who swear by this fucking thing are Neanderthals who are desperately clinging to their place in the game. And they’re soon to be gone.

“The Code” should be a respect for a fellow pro. It should mean you never try to injure a player that could risk his career or health. You treat the game and opponent with respect. But I see that idea being spat on by players seemingly every week. Nothing short of sickening. And all we hear is about if everyone followed “The Code” we wouldn’t have these problems.

If “The Code” was actually supposed to stand in for policing, then it’s a shitty policeman officer (intentional, some of you will get it). If it really is the answer then how come you can’t get more players to follow it?

You know what “The Code” sounds like to me? It sounds like a desperate justification for a shrinking minority of players to give them some air of honor and macho-ness for their soon to be disappeared job. “The Code” only applies to the Scott’s, Parros’s, Thornton’s of the world. It’s a mini-game within the game of hockey. It’s rules for a sideshow.

And it always bends to justify something that isn’t justifiable. How is part of this “code” that someone has to fight after a clean hit? Why do you have to engage in a fight when your opponent is trying to get a beaten team going? Why would you want to wake the other team up? How does it fit into this “code” when you feel aggrieved so you send your goon out to fight the other team’s goon, neither of which had anything to do with the play that has everyone upset in the first place?

“The Code” is in the same bin with the “Unwritten Rules of Baseball,” which only Brian McCann and the St. Louis Cardinals think still apply. Because honestly, isn’t it kind of chickenshit to throw a rock hard baseball at someone from 60 feet away when he can’t then throw his bat at you?

Same with “The Code.” We’ve progressed beyond it, and would do well to jettison those who can’t let go.
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