I read Lambert's article and he seemed to attribute the destruction of the Northeast Division to the foolish notion of getting tougher rather than getting better. He blamed the Leafs, he blamed the Sabres, he implied that Boston caused it, but he of course doesn't see anything wrong with Boston's role in the Division's obsession with toughness. I on the other hand blame Boston and only Boston, because if you are going to blame a city, you should blame a city in a country that has actually won the Cup in the last 20 years.* Also, it's Boston's fault.
*(I kid, I love you Canada and once the Sabres are out of the playoffs, I root for every Canadian team not in Toronto, Ottawa or Montreal to win it all.)
Without further ado, my response to the Lambert article:
It’s not so funny when some brainless thug tries to pummel your own team’s best player into a gooey red puddle, but I guess that’s not a moral anyone outside Toronto this week really needs to be told.
Except for when a Bruin does it, because I'm going to bring it up and make a joke about concussions...
But do you know what's really funny about all this? The team responsible wasn't even in the building. The Sabres beefing up was of course a result of the time Milan Lucic ran through Ryan Miller at a thousand miles an hour and concussed him except not really, and no one on the Sabres made a big deal out of it during the game, let alone trying to punch him;
Actually, a) That is incorrect, Thomas Vanek, Andrej Sekera, Tyler Myers and Paul Gaustad went after Lucic. At the time of the incident, Buffalo had a 1-0 lead, and they went back to playing hockey to try to win the game and b) that isn't funny, at least not funny "ha ha".
This only served to encourage Buffalo, and to a lesser extent the Leafs, to go shopping for toughness and make it a bigger part of the gameplan. Montreal tried to do the same thing, as did Ottawa. This is the kind of incident you didn't even need a telescope to see coming: Skill guy gets knocked out by thug. Knocked-out guy's thug teammate goes after thug's skill teammate.
Thus I believe he admits that Lucic is the original thug who knocked out the original skill player, Miller, which created a negative ripple effect through the division. Except getting bigger, who has Buffalo "gone after?" Kessel, in a preseason game where he was barely touched, Brad Richards, James Neal? No that was Boston. Ryan McDonagh? No Boston. Max Pacioretty? No Boston again...ok so who have we "gone after?"
John Scott's fight card: Orr, Thornton, Parros (2), McLaren (2), Carkner. So just kinda after Kessel then? OK.
If you use the instigator penalty as an indication of teams going after a player to make him fight, Buffalo (3) Toronto (1) and Montreal (2) combined for only 6 in the last 2 years, while Ottawa had 7 and Boston had 6. Which makes Ottawa and Boston seem like the major teams in the division "going after people."
The Campbell/Kaleta fight in 2013 is of note, as Campbell fought because as the Boston announcers explain: "Kaleta came from a long distance to finish his check when Seidenberg is just trying to gain the red line and throw the puck in" "Campbell gonna come right over to deliver a message that these hits are unacceptable because he came from too far of a distance."
Lucic typically drifts from a far distance to borderline charge someone playing the puck that isn't looking. Yes he is skilled, but he is also big, physical and he from time to time behaves thuggishly. As a result of Lucic, Northeast teams find big non-skilled guys, (because big skilled guys are hard to find) to offset the physicality Lucic brings to the game.
Lambert makes the obvious connection:
Miller knocked out by Lucic, Scott is signed, Scott of course, inevitably goes after Kessel.
The whole thing devolves, the Leafs definitely lose their prized free agent signing for one-eighth of the season,
Which is Scott's fault, as two Leafs, a linesman and Kessel using his stick as an axe is no match for Scott who in the offseason is the actual incredible Hulk. Unstoppable when angry, Clarkson had no choice but to come off the bench.
and the incident leads to lots of tongue-clucking from people in all corners of the sport about What It All Means.
What it all means, of course, is that if neither team felt the need to carry players like this because hey look they don't actually deter anyone from anything at all ever.
Lambert links to another article he wrote about Mutually Assured Destruction in the Northeast Division. His thesis is: you have to outskill Boston to nullify the effects of their size. A) How'd that go 'most talented team in the East'? B) He nullifies his whole argument with this statement:
He is right, it is Mutually Assured Destruction, because Boston has proven that no matter what retribution you put on the ice, Boston will continue to be the same awful team of skilled, cheap-shot artists. Vanek, beating you in the playoffs? Don't need a GOON to take him out of the series, Johnny Boychuk can play defense AND give cheap shots.
none of this would have happened and the Leafs would have simply beaten the hell out of Buffalo in a preseason game no one even thought about again.
Right because without GOONs, the losing team would have no choice but to take their defeat, and the winning team would skate off with dignity and the win, like when the Bruins were up 5-2 on the Canucks with 90 seconds to play in a Stanley Cup Finals game, the game ended with no incident because Vancouver didn't feel the need to stock up with GOONs like John Scott. Oh wait, no, the opposite happened.
It's a little early in the season to be having existential crises about the sport because of something John Scott did. Or at least, I would have thought so.
No such thing as too early for Lucic, who is in midseason form, drifting into a Capital that wasn't looking, resulting in a fight between Lucic and Joel Rechlicz. Blame it on John Scott, Joel must've seen the brawl in Toronto and figured that was the only way he could get some attention.
The brawl, while ugly was mostly a non-event, but the true ugliness lives on. Buffalo, Ottawa, Montreal (they have Parros now?) and Toronto are prepared for it, and I for one, appreciate the job John Scott does both as a face-puncher and as an interview-lurking GIF machine. The teams I really feel bad for are Florida, Tampa and Detroit, those teams should circle their first game with Boston and kiss their best player goodbye.