Off Wing Opinion: The Code and calls to do away with the instigator…

Off Wing Opinion: Grappling With “The Code”
Sharks lose to Dallas — again; and we’re heading towards the trade deadline, so let’s go start some rumors…

Off Wing Opinion: The Code On Display In San Jose:

After getting back up, Lindros called out Murray, skating over to him and delivering a forceful cross-check. Murray, not wanting to put up with it, turned, dropped his gloves and faced Lindros.

Which is where Krys Barch came in, dropped his gloves, and took on Murray himself.

After the fight ended with Murray wrestling Barch to the ice, here’s how it shook out:

Murray: 2 minutes for high sticking, 5 minutes for fighting.

Lindros: 2 minutes for cross-checking.

Barch: 2 minutes for instigating, 5 minutes for fighting and a 10-minute misconduct.

With Lindros in the box, you could hear one San Jose fan call him out and ask if he couldn’t fight his own battles. But as I’m finding out in Ross Bernstein’s book, The Code, things played out here pretty much as they should have. And the presence of the instigator penalty might very well have prevented justice from being fully served.

and of course, between this and the Penguins-Habs tiff, there’s now a new round of calls to do away with the instigator rule again.

Can anyone imagine a football coach telling the press “quit calling roughing the passer — my offensive linesmen will deal with the problem”?

No, of course not. And that is, I think, one reason why the NHL continues to marginalize itself in the American markets. Because deep down inside, hockey people and fans want to believe that the referee is somehow optional, that “real men” take care of themselves. That is the essence of “the code”.

Of course, the code, whatever it is, is a pretty slipper thing. You hear guys like, say, Matt Barnaby talk it up a lot — and turtle at every opportunity. Evidently “the code” is subjective to a situation and a person.

Frankly, the argument for removing the instigator rule is “we LIKE vigilante justice”. That’s bread and circuses, not, I hope, hockey.

And honestly? Where is the honor in “Murray hits Lindros. Lindros ducks behind Barch. Barch hits Murray. Honor is preserved” — not that I’m recommending that Lindros hunt his own heads at this point in his career, but where’s the honor in two teams sending out paid warriors to ritual battle each other? I’m sorry, I don’t see it. When Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton dueled, they had seconds on hand; they didn’t send seconds out to shoot each other.

To me, the folks calling for the removal of the instigator will guarantee that hockey will never be taken seriously if it succeeds. And it’s going about “preserving honor” ass backward.

The critics are focussing on the Koivu hit, and the Souray response, and his penalty. But right at the start of the game, Crosby got butt-ended by Laperiere. Now, according to the code, someone on the ice should have jumped Laperiere and risked an instigator and a 17 minute vacation (or a gamer). Instead, later on, Colby Armstrong returned the favor (in spades) on the habs top guy — and the habs responded and THEY lost Souray.

THAT, friends, is how “the honor of the code” ought to work. Don’t whine about the instigator. Don’t get mad. Get even. And do it within the rules. Find a spot and take it. run the goalie. Find their top guy and run him. Make THEM start taking the stupid penalties, and get your licks in along the way. (yes. yes. I am, in all honesty, calling for running the goalie. Hey, if they want to take liberties, take liberties in return. fair is fair, and, well, unfair deserves unfair. they started it…)

Teams don’t need to get rid of the instigator to “protect honor” and their elite players. they simply have to play smart instead of stupid. Don’t beat up on a 4th line player and take stupid penalties, take a number, pick your spot, and find one of their guys and give them a reason to encourage their goons to not be quite so stupid next time.

But no, once again, we see hockey rush into beserker “mongo hunt!” mentality, something you simply don’t see in ANY other major professional sport, except perhaps some fringes of NASCAR (eat paint, sucker! bwa ha ha).

And as long as so much of hockey’s elite pushes for the rules to be in the way of protecting their manhood, hockey’s going to be viewed by many americans as no better than the WWE. the hell with “the code”, let’s get back to gamesmanship. You can satisfy honor WITHIN the rules, if you play smart. Is it that canadian hockey players are too stupid to figure this out? Personally, I don’t htink so. I just think they’re swayed by some of their leaders (most notably, Don Cherry) into thinking with their testicles too much.

From the way I see it, Murray is a young kid who needs to control his stick no matter what. The Sharks broadcast team described his high stick as unintentional, but after looking at it a few times, it seemed borderline to me.

FWIW, as someone who’s watched Murray a lot, he’s one of the cleanest and hardest hitters I’ve ever seen.. He’s very much in the Scott Stevens mode; if his stick got loose, unlike a bunch of folks (many of whom hide behind guys like Darch when called out), he’s VERY careful about his stick and elbows. he knows, among other things, that he doesn’t need them to hurt you…

This entry was posted in Sports - Hockey.