Are there any fans of professional sports who remain centrists?

If social media feeds, the drone of sports radio and water cooler chatter are any indication, if they exist, they are few and far between.

And that’s too bad.

The hot-button topic in the most recent round of the NHL playoffs bears that out. (With all apologies to the Kings, Blackhawks, and their fans, everyone here knows what I am talking about.)

Did Brandon Prust intentionally hurt Derek Stepan?

Did Chris Kreider intentionally run Carey Price?


Do the Canadiens dive?

Are the Rangers embellishing?

No, no, yes and yes.

After looking at the Prust hit every which way one can with the available online tools (and, with the benefit of slow-motion replay), I cannot see where Prust makes contact first with Stepan’s head. His shoulder contacts the upper chest, and rides into the mouth, likely causing what we all now know is a broken jaw.

At full speed, the hit happened less than two full seconds after Stepan got rid of the puck, but that is still way too long. The hit was late. The officials on the ice missed it. The suspension in this case is justified.

But don’t try to sell me on the fact that Prust deserves any more than what he got. And if you’re Michel Therrien, the Montreal Canadiens’ coach, don’t try to sell me that he was “just finishing his check,” either. He hit him late. he needs to deal with the consequences.


That brings up the Kreider play that ultimately knocked Price from the playoffs. Players are told, from the first time they play hockey, to drive the net if they want to score goals. That’s what Kreider was doing. One of the inherent risks of playing the position between the pipes is players, pucks and the occasional piece of equipment flying in your direction. Crease rules can only prevent so much.

Could Kreider have turned differently? Maybe. But again, at full speed, good luck.

The fact that there has been no retribution — perceived or otherwise — is a Canadiens’ acknowledgement that they understand that, regardless of their position in the media.

Bitter fans from Boston — and by no means am I saying ALL fans from Boston — continue to wish ill will toward the Habs at every turn, despite a previously equal hatred for all things New York, across all sports. The question is: Why?

If any team for which I cheer is eliminated, I immediately become a fan of the sport. I want to see a good game, regardless of the outcome. There are story lines within each series or game that pull on heartstrings, or catch your attention. Martin St. Louis dealing with the death of a parent is a compelling angle with the Rangers. Dustin Tokarski’s emergence from out of nowhere with the Canadiens is fun to watch.

The final four in the National Hockey League is among the best hockey in the world, and to be so cynical, to avoid it or to roast anyone who is enjoying it, is useless.


Claiming a team dives, or embellishes, is another easy statement to make. Because you can make it about every team, and in pretty close to every game every team plays. They all do it. And until the league decides to enforce a rule that is already on the books, and call a penalty for an infraction that already exists, players will continue to exploit loopholes in their quest to win.

It’s hard to discuss any of this, though, because apparently the way we all discuss anything anymore is to shout out a few statements, based little on fact and more on buzz words. If it sounds like what you heard on the radio, or what your favorite team-based blogger said, then it’s a valid argument.

Or not.

Before immediately dismissing a discussion point based solely on a person’s proclivity to cheer for a certain team, the jersey they are wearing or even where they’re from, perhaps its worth a listen.

Intelligent debate — whether in the sporting, political or any other forum — should be based on facts, evidence and rational thought, not on the latest punchline or one-liner, nor on preconceived notions.

You’d be surprised how much you can learn — and how much more fun sports can be.

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