Thursday, November 09, 2006

11-8-06: Red Wings 3, Oilers 0

  1. First and foremost, here’s hoping that Williams is going to be okay and that the stretcher and the ambulance and everything was more precautionary than necessary. Scary.
  2. Did aliens kidnap the Oilers (except for Roloson) and switch their personalities with a bunch of grouchy, mean-spirited kindergarteners? Seriously: their play is sloppy and unfocused, and their entire strategy seems to be designed around trying to out-violence the opposing team. I’m not anti-violence on principle, but I am against the use of it as a substitute for, you know, skill. How many shots on goal did they get? 16? That’s ludicrous. But hey, they started a lot of fights and sent a dude to the hospital. That’s some shit to be proud of, huh? The whole team needs a time out, a glass of warm milk, and a nap. Three days ago I mostly liked these guys. Tonight I could barely stand to come back for the 3rd period, even for the Red Wings, who by the way played a fast, smart game which would have been a total blowout if Roloson wasn’t as amazing as he is. The only thing that makes Edmonton not a total waste of time.
  3. I know everyone says it was a ‘clean hit’ on Williams. In most cases, I’d say yeah, terrible accident, nature of the game, should have kept his head up, and all the other generic platitudes we just love to trot out in order to avoid feeling guilty for enjoying a sport that involves the (unlikely but still real) possibility that someone, eventually, might get killed. Moreover, I’m not necessarily in favor of any kind of ‘official’ action in cases like this. But here’s the thing: the Oilers, for whatever reason, have decided to play a pretty sadistic version of the game, one deliberately intended to do gratuitous damage- clean, dirty, however they can get it. That is within their rights- it is, indeed, a violent game. You wanna play sadistic? Fine. You wanna play badly? That’s fine too. Hell, why not do both? But when the shit really goes down and everyone starts feeling a little queasy, don’t give me this ‘clean hit’ crap. Yeah, it was legal. You know what? Legal doesn’t make it okay. There are all kinds of abuse and exploitation in this sorry world that are totally legal. Penalties are the rules of the game, not moral judgments- they do not exist to punish the wicked, but to try to secure some approximation of the metaphorical ‘level playing field.’ Getting a penalty doesn’t mean you did something ‘bad’, it means you did something counter to the basic principles upon which the competition is based. Vice versa, not getting a penalty doesn’t mean what you did was ‘good’ or even ‘not bad’. So Torres honey, you can go to bed tonight secure in the knowledge that you didn’t (in that particular case) violate the glorious Rules of Hockey. But you still did a horrible thing, and yes, you are responsible for it. Just not to the refs. And moreover, all y’all commentators and analysts and fans (myself included), just freakin’ admit this: Even when all the rules are properly enforced, there’s a lot of disturbing, unethical, and sometimes even inhuman behavior that goes on in this game, and we let it slide all the damn time. Because it didn’t break the rules. Because it’s our team. Because we’re angry too. Because most of the time- when it’s just broken noses and missing teeth and torn ligaments and stitches and casts and crutches- we like the violence and the danger. Because we’re afraid that if we try to restrict the cruelty the game will become somehow less sexy, less compelling, less exciting. And it probably would be, too. But let’s not be coy here: whether silently or vocally, we’re all condoning the breaking of human bodies for our entertainment.

Viva Hockey.

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