My big issue with this vigilante justice that many of you are clamoring for is that it might very well re-write something of an unwritten rule in the NHL, which is:
Do not try to get to the Detroit Red Wings *that way*.
The way it is now, we play the Hurricanes, Muller scratches Westgarth; we play the Bruins, Julien scratches Thornton; we play the Sabres, Nolan scratches Scott; we play the Canadiens, Therrien scratches Parros (and Murray). It's an unwritten hockey code unto itself. It's a show of respect. It's a pretty good deal. On the other hand, the Bruins play the Sabres...and Scott crushes Eriksson. Because, hey, fair game.
Sure, every now and then something is going to happen. Weber almost took Z's head off, and Cowen caught Dats "on the button." But, you know what? I'd rather we take our chances with a once-every-two-or-three-years occurrence than basically tell the rest of the league, "We are the Detroit Red Wings and we will fight you!!!" That's what opposing coaches and thugs want us to say. They want us to give them the green light. They want us to dress a wildly out-of-place enforcer on our skill-centric team. They want us to get away from our game. That's why a guy would take a calculated run at Z or D in the first place. It's a bigger picture strategy thing.
And it doesn't work. If anything, it generally makes us better. I mean, just look at how good we've been since we lost Dats (and he'll be back soon enough, and we'll be even better). You could argue that, if the goal is to establish supremacy over us and soften us up for the rest of the league, taking out our best player was the single most stupid thing the Sens could've done. I don't think they go to bed last night thinking, "Ha! Datsyuk's still out! The last laugh! Haha!"
Don't get me wrong. I'm all for sticking up for yourself and your team mates and your team and your organization. I'm all for this team being tougher, more physical, grittier, harder to play against. But you have to be at least halfway reasonable about it. It can't be, "Datsyuk got caught with an elbow in a regular season game, in November. Accordingly, we must sign and dress at least three enforces and re-enact March 27, 1997 or else we suck and should just forfeit the season." This isn't the '80s, this isn't the Norris Division. Nor is it Lemieux-on-Draper. It's a deliberately careless elbow and a choppy, chippy game from a floundering, ultra-frustrated division rival that might not even make the playoffs. And last night we beat them in their own building and further strengthened the notion that, if it was a better chance at a Cup that he was looking for, Alfie made the right choice in signing with the Red Wings. We're second in the division and third in the conference, just a few points back of the Bruins and Penguins. And that's without our best player, our third-best defenseman, an important part of this season's first line, last season's Jimmy Howard, and, basically, our second-line center. So, at the moment, I'm pretty damn happy with, and proud of, this team.