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Chris Neil’s Cheap Shot Sidelines New York Ranger Pest Sean Avery October 7, 2007

Chris Neil – Hockey Coward

(October 7) Last night, the New York Rangers proved that the Ottawa Senators aren’t as good a hockey team as the media reports predicted. Despite a miserable performance, a lack of intensity, no offensive presence and a horrible defensive effort, the Rangers lost to Ottawa by a mere 2–0. Both Ottawa goals came in less than one minute of each other and were gifts resulting from bad defensive plays by the Rangers. Although Henrik Lundqvist let in one soft goal, he was brilliant against the highly-touted Ottawa team.

The story of the night, however, was the cheap shot by Chris Neil on Sean Avery, resulting in an apparent dislocated shoulder for Avery. Neil blind-sided Avery, who did not see Neil and was totally defenseless. The referees, playing “homey” for the Ottawa crowd, simply gave Neil a two-minute elbowing penalty and ignored the deliberate intent to injure Avery.

First of all, let’s not have any illusions about Sean Avery. He is a pest and is like a burr under a horse’s saddle or a pebble in your shoe. He knows how to stir the pot and mix things up. He is hardly a hockey angel. Yet his injury is the perfect example of why the NHL and its referees remain horribly inconsistent.

First, as this incident involves a Canadian team, there will likely be no action taken by the NHL. The NHL has been remarkably lenient with Canadian teams and its players when it comes to flagrant misconduct. And with Ottawa following up its trip to the Stanley Cup finalks last season, they embody the hope that the Cup might return to Canada for the first time since the Montreal Canadians’ victory following the 1992-1993 season.

Secondly, Chris Neil’s reputation for cowardly, cheap shots is well-documented. He has managed to escape severe punishment time and time again. Ottawa fans (and other NHL fans) might take exception about the anger of Ranger fans at the Neil hit because the Rangers have their own bad boy in Ryan Hollweg, Another “excuse” is that the Neil hit was on Sean Avery, and everybody hates Avery. However, regardless of who the hit was against, the penalty for a deliberate intent to injure must be levied against Neil.

Third, the lack of leadership by Gary Bettman and the personal prejudice of Colin Campbell have yet to make hockey a safer game. As much as “old-timers” like myself miss the bumping, grinding and toughness of the era before players wore helmets and face shields, we must also recognize that players are bigger, faster and stronger. Even with two referees on the ice, it is getting harder to protect the players from serious, career-threatening injuries.

Finally, an abrupt bias has already reared its ugly head for the Rangers after two games. Other teams will obviously target Sean Avery with cheap shots and taunting. Even worse is that the refs have already decided that the Rangers will get a penalty whenever Avery is involved in some miuschief, even when initiated by the other team. When Avery received a cheap shot on Thursday night against the Florida Panthers, the refs gave Paul Mara a bizarre four-minute penalty that negated what should have been a power play for the Rangers. This continues a pattern that was evident last season.

Ranger fans can take some solace in the fact that Jason Strudwick beat the hell out of Neil after he threw another cheap shot against Petr Prucha. Neil was bleeding profusely, but that is hardly a payback for the injury to Avery that should sideline him for six to eight weeks.

Only one solution seems fair. When there is a cheap shot like Neil’s that is an obvious intent to injure, the player should be suspended for the duration of the other player’s injury plus an additional twenty (20) games. Such a rule is simple, takes the guesswork out of the punishment and would act as a deterrent to cowards like Neil.

Of course, there is another solution from the “good old days” of the NHL. If Rangers coach Tom Renney was an SOB like Buffalo Sabre coach Lindy Ruff, he would have sent his fourth line out to go after Ottawa stars Daniel Alfredsson, Dany Heatley and Jason Spezza. If the NHL doesn’t take action against Neil this week, the return match against Ottawa at Madison Square Garden next Saturday (10/13) could be a bloodfest.

It is really up to the NHL. What do you think they will do?


6 Responses to “Chris Neil’s Cheap Shot Sidelines New York Ranger Pest Sean Avery”

  1. Deuceman Says:

    You would make your argument much better if you didn’t call Neil’s hit a “blatant attempt to injure”, because it clearly was not. It was not an elbow, a high hit, a late hit or a penalty. It was just bad luck for Avery to be given a sucker pass by his own teammate when Neil was on the ice looking to hit him.

    Just the same would be given by Avery if he was awarded the opportunity to hit Neil with his head down.

    Prucha’s play was actually not an elbow either. You can look at the reply 100 times. There is no elbow. It was not a late hit either.

    If anything, this article couldn’t be more far off from what really happened…. and you called the refs “homers”?? ha!

  2. bluboo Says:

    Hey Deuceman:

    First, I never questioned the hit on Prucha although other fellow Ranger fans are far less forgiving. However, like many hockey fans, you are missing the point.

    Had Avery done the same thing to Chris Neil, I would be just as angry. There are enough injuries in this league without players taking aim at each other to inflict maximum damage. Only a p***y like Neil would try to nail someone like that when they aren’t looking.

    There is a huge difference between a good, clean, hard-checking game of hockey and just wild skating by a jerk like Chris Neil with the hopes of putting somebody down.

    The simple fact is that Avery was not looking, had no way to protect himself and was clearly headed to the bench for a change. There is no question that Neil was headhunting. That is where the intent is. The fact that Avery wasn’t looking makes it even more dangerous. Whether it was called charging or elbowing or whatever, and even if it was a borderline “clean” hit (depending on what kind of blinders you wear), Neil clearly intended to injure Avery.

    The sad part is that you seem to think it is okay for a player to get injured by a “clean” hit. What you want is the Roman Coliseum with gladiators and lions, not hockey. It’s bad enough when an accidental collision between Brendan Shanahan and Mike Knuble almost ended two great careers. You want goons like Neil headhunting to see who they can really hurt.

    I made it clear that I don’t necessarily approve of all of Avery’s antics, and I would never condone any cheap shot. I hope you are able to find your pound of flesh and freshly-spewn blood during the season.

  3. Bean Says:

    Avery is a goon too

  4. bluboo Says:

    There is no question that Avery often reaps what he sows. I have never been a big fan of the “pest” type player, having spent years hoping players like Ken Linseman, Dale Hunter and others would get run over by the Zamboni. I like Avert when he is playing hockey but I don’t approve of his other antics on the ice. All-in-all, my real hope is that the NHL will crack down on the late hits, the head shots, the hits from behind and the other dangerous plays that could result in serious injury.

  5. AveryHata Says:

    Hollweg is so much more than a “bad boy.” He’s a complete retard who’s intent to injure is so much more evident than anyone else playing in the NHL right now. How many match penalties has he received in the last 3 years? 4? 5? 1 is too many but he’s had numerous.

    Neil’s no angel, but if you’re going to cast stones, you’d better not be living in a glass house with Hollweg and AVery. If the Rangers don’t want this kind of thing to happen, then they shouldn’t have taken Avery.

    Now that both AVery and Hollweg are gone, the Rangers are much better off.

  6. bluboo Says:

    Avery was a pest in the best sense of a Ken Linsmann or a Derek Sanderson, but he probably has the talent to be a good hockey player without the mouth. I liked him as a Ranger but he caused too many problems. He brought way too much personality to a Ranger team that wasn’t prepared for his shenanigans.

    I must admit … I almost wet my pants when he did that act in front of Mary Brodeur in the play-offs last year. That was worth the price of Avery for a little over a year.

    I had a chance to meet Ryan Hollweg several times and I really like him as a person. He was too anxious to hit people and stir things up, but I really don’t think he ever set out to hurt someone (unlike Chris Neil or Chris Simon). Ryan was not in control of his skating and did not always have the best judgement … and he has been punished appropriately.

    My point was strictly about the deliberate intent to injure, not about promoting hockey sainthood. Any player, Ranger or otherwise, must be held more accountable when it is obvious that the intent to injure is present.

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