Last night’s Bruins-Penguins was a great example of the need to get rid of the instigator rule.
The Bruins looked completed depleted, both physically and emotionally, battling both the flu and the need to avenge Matt Cooke’s hit on Marc Savard.
The Bruins chose to spend their energy avenging Savard and wound up losing 3-0.
Boston looked like they had too much time to think about this game. Colin Campbell visited the Bruins before the game, reminding them that last night needed to be a hockey game and not an ambush. A veteran officiating crew also worked the game, just to make sure things stayed civilized.
Shawn Thornton wound up fighting Cooke, but I’m not sure any of the Bruins got any kind of closure.
Before the game, Fluto Shinzawa spoke to the legendary Bobby Orr, and Orr spoke of the need for players to be able to police themselves:
The problem we have now is that many players are protected…With the new rules, it’s a difficult thing to do. You go too far, you’re going to be in trouble. It’s a difficult thing to take care of…I do think that the league is going to start demanding the players to police themselves. In time, everyone will understand that it was a bad hit. It shouldn’t have happened.
Orr is right. Players are scared to protect each other. And when they do have to stand up for each other, like the Bruins had to last night, it’s completely unnatural. It looked like having to take care of Cooke completely distracted the Bruins last night and cost them two points they can’t afford to surrender.
If the Bruins had taken care of Cooke last Sunday, this would have just been another game. I’m sure no love would have been lost between the teams because of Cooke’s hit, but at least Boston would have gotten Cooke’s punishment out of the way.
I hope the NHL is noticing what an ecosystem the on-ice game is. When you take away the ability of players to police each other, the hits get dirtier and more severe. And instead of an ugly game last Sunday, the NHL got an ugly game last night.