Complaints about the way the Pittsburgh Penguins have conducted themselves this past season have become so commonplace that they blend right in with your general barrage of gripes that you can expect to see with each season. But how about one from a Penguins’ fan himself? Sure enough, these last few weeks have gotten so out of hand, culminating with yesterday afternoon’s debacle with the Philadelphia Flyers, that it prompted an Open Letter to be posted on their SB Nation blog PensBurgh. This is a very thoughtful yet straight-to-the-point message from a lifelong Penguins’ fan that really captures everything that the rest of the league has been saying for years:
The way in which to Penguins conducted themselves in Philadelphia on Sunday validates every criticism that members of media and other fanbases have espoused in the post lockout era. We have been called entitled, spoiled & arrogant. Those critiques were turned into indisputable facts with our absolute lack of discipline, class and professionalism. We fell behind in a game with massive importance to our post season and instead of acting like professionals we looked more like a John Stevens coached Flyers team that saw Mike Richards take runs at Marc-Andre Fleury and Scott Hartnell biting the finger of Kris Letang as the 09-10 campaign began. The role reversal is now complete. We are what we hated so much about them.
We are now the, throw-a-temper-tantrum-when-we-are-down, team that we railed against just a few years ago. The Flyers are now the disciplined, professional team. I still hate them but now I am also completely embarrassed to have the Penguins logo on the front of my sweater as I type this.
I challenge Mario Lemieux to publicly apologize to not only the Flyers, but to the NHL for marring the great spectacle that is the Stanley Cup Playoffs with the childishness the Penguins as a team portrayed on Sunday…
Make sure you actually click the link above to read the entire thing, because it truly blew my mind that a member of their fan base would actually step back and put himself in the shoes of an unbiased onlooker. The Penguins have made a mockery of themselves and lost respect, and one wonders if they will ever be able to recover. No longer are they the poster child of virtue led by their ultra-professional, always-say-the-right-things captain Sidney Crosby. As I said yesterday, frustration has reached its boiling point, and the question we have to ask as fans of this great sport, not just with the Penguins and Flyers, but in the overall grand scheme of things in the first round is, can these officials establish control over the players? It is a question that cannot be answered right now, if not for at least a week.
As for yesterday’s game, it truly was not something we should be happy about. Do I love fighting and checking in hockey? Absolutely. I have always argued against people that want to water down the sport, but yesterday’s game was an embarrassment. Exciting? Yes, but do we want that to stand as the example of what this sport is? Most certainly not. This is not the 1970′s or 80′s anymore where it is okay to punch your way to a Stanley Cup. Maybe that was fitting of the time period then, but not now. The league wants speed and skill and yesterday’s muckery was the anti-thesis of that sentiment. If anyone thinks a 60 minute game that encompassed 158 penalty minutes and four players getting ejected should be representative of this sport, I truly suggest that you re-examine yourself as a fan and recommend you try giving wrestling a watch instead. Here is a video of all the fights compiled:
That is not hockey. That is brutality. That is guys skating around the ice with weapons in their hands and malicious intent in their minds trying to seriously injure a player. If Arron Asham and James Neal do not get suspended or thrown out of the playoffs (especially in comparison to what Carl Hagelin of the Rangers did to earn three games) then we must seriously question the motives and integrity of the National Hockey League and the already tarnished example they are setting for the playoffs by, in their first incident, not suspending Shea Weber.
This was all great in the beginning, but it is almost too much now. It is like players are skating around doing this intentionally, to see what they can get away with. Dustin Brown of the Kings throwing a clean hit on Henrik Sedin of the Canucks last night only to find himself attacked shortly after and forced to fight is an example of this. Clean hits, dirty hits, attempted murder, whatever happens on the ice, a melee will ensue. The officials need to gain control of their league, because if they do not, very soon will we be watching a player taken off the ice on a stretcher, with his career in jeopardy. Hockey is a lot of things, but that ain’t one of them.