Options For Avenging a Cheapshot Are Pretty LimitedShareThis
Interesting timing – I was going through some columns that I had deemed unfit to release from a few months ago, and found this one about what David Booth can do to avenge getting his brain shaken by Mike Richards (short answer: nothing). But after Matt Cooke played the role of Richards in a recent re-enactment with Mark Savard, it seems relevant again.
-by Justin Bourne
Mike Richards scrambled David Booth’s eggs so thoroughly that the guy was no longer free range. It happened on a hit you’d be polite to describe as “questionable”.
Confined to the couch and bed, he avoided exercise like all concussion-cases, letting things heal themselves using the best known medication – time – and has since made his return to the Florida Panthers.
He watched Mike Richards get punished in the form of… um… he got punished by… er… really, he didn’t even get a game suspension? What the crap?
From David Booth’s perspective, you have to think the fella’s a little pissed. He narrowly missed being named to the US Olympic team, and was denied the chance to prove his worth over the course of this season, while Richards snuck onto one Team Canada as one of the last forwards chosen (they like that he plays a physical game, you see).
Without their top goal scorer (Booth had 31 goals last year), the team is currently a few points out of a playoff spot, and just behind… the Philadelphia Flyers, who are now technically in the playoffs.
Needless to say, the aftershocks of a decision made by Richards that happened in a split second are still reverberating throughout the Eastern Conference standings.
Florida played Philly about a month back and lumped them up 4-1, even without their star Booth. That was nice, but had they had him all season, who knows how many 2-1 games would have gone Florida’s way, or shootout losses would’ve gotten nullified with Booth in the lineup. Game breakers are tough to come by, and to be so close to the playoffs without theirs, the Panthers have a right to gripe.
In these cases, when you or a teammate gets drilled, people always tell you to beat them on the scoreboard. That doing that is the best revenge. That the scoreboard is where it really hurts.
Is it though? What’s Booth supposed to do when he comes back, try really really hard to win? You don’t think he was doing that before, and every other night of his career? He can’t control how the rest of his team plays. Maybe he’ll show up with his “A” game to beat the Flyers the next time they play but Florida won’t win. In hockey, you’re just one piece in a big team puzzle.
Tying to beat up your assailant isn’t the right answer either. Though noble, by the “fight him” logic, the toughest guys on the ice have free rein to destroy people, because you can’t ever get real physical revenge on a fight-winning human like George Laraques (though I’m sure Nicklas Kronwall would like to try, stick in hand, of course). You can always try, but if you get hit by a tougher dude, the only thing you get by going after him when you’re healthy is a chance to be made unhealthy again.
Also, there’s the whole moral thing, which can be a hassle. You’re supposed to be above that, you know.
There’s the idea that the player who injures another player illegally should be out as long as the player he injured, but that theory’s got more holes than an OJ alibi. I won’t even go into that theory.
So if you’re David Booth, how do you avenge the Richards hit?
Maybe you don’t. Maybe you just take your lumps, acknowledge you play in a contact league, and that hits like that – whoever’s to blame for them - are periodically gonna happen.
But that’s frustrating bullshit too.
The second you see Richards you’re going to want to hit him with a tire iron.
There’s just nothing you can do. When you get seriously injured in the NHL, not only do you suffer temporary and long-term health concerns, you suffer the mental misery from not having a way to settle the score.
This is why the reaction towards dangerous hits from the league is so crucial. Low-balling the seriousness of a hit is a crime nearly as bad as the hit itself.
I’m a Canadian hockey player who loves watching the rough stuff. But in an era where players have to answer less and less for their actions on the ice, we need to hold them more and more responsible from the offices off the ice. Especially in light of the recent data the NFL has been digging up about the seriously harmful long term effects of concussions.
The only way to get players to exercise more caution is to keep dropping suspensions that get players to snap awake like we dumped cold water on them. They’ll bitch, they’ll complain ….and they’ll stop finishing “questionable” plays.
Too little, too late for David Booth, but don’t worry. He’ll get ‘em on the scoreboard, where it hurts the most.
Authors note: As you probably know, David Booth did try to fight Mike Richards. After seeing how it went down, I was glad it happened. Nobody got hurt, Richards gave Booth his fair shot, and it was over. That said, other than gaining respect in the hockey world, nothing changed in the big picture. Booth missed half a season while Richards didn’t miss a shift, the Panthers are still just out of playoffs, and Booth missed the Olympics while Richards has a gold medal. And, Richards team will most likely make playoffs. Some of you may not have thought that hit was bad, but I did, so I’m just using it as an example to illustrate a point. This article isn’t just about those two.