TORONTO – On which side of the thin line lie your sympathies depends on the list of factors as long as Zdeno Chara is the baton.
Result on the board.
The importance of the game.
The amount of time left on the clock.
Whether you view the NHL Code as a gospel or a guideline.
A star of strength and resentment of certain players involved.
The number and types of penalties previously imposed against each party up to that point.
And, most often, the laundry you support.
Take another look at the rigid test of NHL superstar Auston Matthews absorbed by Montreal Canadiens defenders Shea Weber and Ben Chiarot in the final moments of regulation during the season opener on Wednesday as he tried to gain online scoring in front during a tiered slope:
Do you let them play? Or the letter of the law?
Matthews jerked off the ice when the third-period buzz rang, favoring his lower back. He stepped away from the cameras and sought the attention of Leafs athletic therapist Paul Ayotte on the bench.
No sentence was imposed.
Matthews stayed in the game, played through what coach Sheldon Keefe called a “sting,” and even recorded a secondary assist in eventual OT winner Morgan Rielly.
The result was inappropriate abuse, fair or wrong, but it sparked a debate as old as stripes and whistles.
“It’s great to see NHL hockey last night. Such amazing athletes and so much speed and skill in the game now, ”tweeted Jeff Jackson, an agent of the Orr Hockey Group who helps negotiate monstrous contracts for Canadian franchisees Connor McDavid and Matthews.
“But watching the abuse that the stars play is hard to watch. I felt like the 80s with cross checks in the back and hacking and cutting. NFL protects QBs? Why wouldn’t we? “
“Five pees, it’s common and accepted that Weber and Chiarot can absolutely stab Auston Matthews in the back in front of the Montreal net, but if an attacking player committed exactly the same offense, they would often get a penalty,” the player tweeted, analyst Mike Johnson said. former Leaf and Canadien.
“This is not a Toronto / Matthews tweet. I’m watching [Montreal’s Brendan] Gallagher is hit night after night without a call. It is [an] thing with attack / defense. “
For context, it should be noted that Matthews and Chiarot took part in a physical battle all night:
And with every NHL game in this unique campaign in which rivals oppose each other, intimidation and corporal punishment should gain added importance.
Every bruise is an investment.
On the other hand, every penalty drawn is an opportunity to gain a position on the ladder.
“There’s definitely a line,” Matthews said, following training from Thursday.
“You always want to protect the players. I mean, I guess guys have the right to defend the net and create that kind of body position and stuff, but I think you just have to find that happy medium. And as for penalties and referees, it has to be consistent. “
Matthews downplayed the body blows he soaked up and their effect, saying the bats just caught him in a “weird place” and that the consistency of the officers couldn’t be assessed at 64 minutes of action.
Captain John Tavares had a teammate back.
“I think there must be a line in the sand somewhere,” said Tavares, to whom life on the blue pages is no stranger.
“It is an extremely contested area, and the defense team has the right to defend it. But I think it certainly gets to the point where it crosses the border and that should be called. “
As an organization, the Maple Leafs worked hard to accept the difficulty and push through the pain.
Because, let’s be real, if Matthews doesn’t blow the whistle in Game 1, he certainly won’t get it in Game 7.
From a personnel standpoint, that’s why Kyle Dubas has signed Wayne Simmonds and doesn’t want to hear your offers for Zach Hyman. At the other end of the ice, that’s why he signed Zach Bogosian.
The club should thrive in those often romanticized “dirty areas,” not shy away from them.
Keefe has been tasked with preparing his sheets for the hard and the ugly in 2021. Certainly, one game is too early to start complaining or praying for powerful games.
The coach on Wednesday abused how his best player is hockey hockey.
“It’s very much in the structure of the sport in terms of competitiveness and how hard it is, especially around the net,” Keefe said. It is as if the path to their wildest fantasy rests in realism.
“I think the NHL has made great strides over the years to protect players, and they will continue to look at things that can help make it safer not only for stars like Auston, but for all players of all ages.”