Our Islander's blogger Rob has already mentioned it, but I feel it is necessary as a Ranger fan to bring it up as well. Gary Bettman recently singled out Ryan Hollweg, Jordin Tootoo of Nashville and Derek Boogaard of Minnesota, saying that they are pretty much under a microscope by the league because of their "hit to hurt" approach to hockey. I feel this is an unfair shot to not only Hollweg, but to Tootoo and Boogaard as well. Here's why:
Sure they play a different type of hockey that some people may say is not hockey at all, but if a message is to be sent, send it to everyone. Just because these three players have had some kind of reputation put on them doesn't mean they have to be the only ones watched. How about Donald Brashear of Washington? Darien Hatcher of Philidelphia? Chris Neil of Ottawa? I feel that a better approach would have been a league wide announcement. Put everyone on notice, so there's no feeling of a disadvantage, which leads to my next point.
Essentially, these three teams start the season on a bit of disadvantage. If a Hollweg hit, clean or not, starts some extra-curricular activity, Hollweg is instantly going to be looked at as the bad guy in the situation. Referees now look at Hollweg as if he is leaving his skates Downie style every time he throws one of his board shaking hits. Same with Tootoo and Boogaard. It could get to the point where everytime one of these players throws a hit, it results in a two minute penalty, or worse. Then as a coach, when do you stop dressing that player? A lineup without Boogaard in Minnesota is a huge loss of physicality. Tootoo is one of the few players on Nashville willing to step in and drop the gloves.
I know the last time a Hollweg situation came up it caused some controversy and some headbutting. I really welcome any comments, agreeing or disagreeing with me. I would like to hear the other side as well. I look at is a disadvantage to these teams, and a softening up of the sport in a way. I in no way condone any actions that hurt or attempt to hurt players, no matter what color sweater they're wearing. I do feel that this was not handled appropriately though. Thoughts?