Leafs 1 v. Blackhawks 3: Disaster
This game started out as a classic Norris Division clash. It was an up-tempo, hard-hitting game that drew the largest crowd of the year in Chicago, 17,950. So much for those that think the Leafs are not a big draw. I'll cover this in more depth later but to think otherwise just shows that you are one of the anti-Leaf Lemmings. Unfortunately, the Leafs could not build on their early lead as they again failed to capitalize Chicago's cheating tendencies. They allowed Chicago in the game with a shorthanded goal before coughing up two bad goals on giveaways in the third period.
However, the game is secondary to this bit of catastrophic news:
Mike Peca, the team's best penalty killer and its defensive soul, left the game in the first period with a potential season-ending injury to his right knee. Initial word was that the 32-year-old suffered a torn medial collateral ligament and fractures to his tibia. He wore an air cast on the flight home and will be further evaluated this morning.
The play came late in the first period when Jim Vandermeer delivered a vicious knee-on-knee hit on Peca. As if to give me the sense that I was insane David 'I am 10 years past my best' Hodge, Bob 'I ate the last Insider to get this job' Mackenzie, and Darren 'I do not give opinions' Dreger spent the entire intermission watching Vandermeer turn his body and deliver a brutal knee-on-knee hit while saying that it was clearly an accident. They showed the clip at least five times and each time you could see that he drove his knee through Peca's but since he didn't stick his knee out in the Ulf Samuelsson fashion it was a clean hit. Bullshit. Once he saw Peca trying to avoid his initial hit he could have avoided any contact but he adjusts his body to drive right through Peca's knee.
The thing that really drove me nuts was that they watched the video showing the dirtiness of the hit and then turned to a cued up tape of Tucker's hit on Peca in which you can see Darcy's hip hit Peca in the thigh (WHERE HIP CHECKS STRIKE PEOPLE) and had the audacity to compare the hits! Al Capone summed up my sentiments best:
I want you to get this fuck where he breathes! I want you to find this nancy-boy Eliot Ness (Jim Vandermeer), I want him DEAD! I want his family DEAD! I want his house burned to the GROUND! I wanna go there in the middle of the night and I wanna PISS ON HIS ASHES!
Of course, the refs kicked Vandermeer out of the game so he didn't have to face up to his actions and thanks to this crappy schedule the Leafs do not play the Blackhawks until next year. How much do you want to bet that that game gets circled on the calendar really quickly.
Now, one of the Leafs best players this year is most likely out for the season because some no-mark goon decided he needed to make a name for himself, or as Maurice put it:
It was a knee-on-knee hit and our guy's going to be out for a long time. Their guy is probably going to be in the minors by the time he comes back.
Of course, read that article and you would think that poor little Jimmy Vandermeer was skating around the ice with his head in the sky when the evil Michael Peca tried to end his career with a dirty hit.
For once, I would love to see the damned Toronto Media get behind the team and call for a suspension for an opponent. It's hilarious that some people think that because the NHL has offices in Toronto that they get some sort of preferential treatment. After complaining, they got their bloodprice but how much do you want to bet that Vandermeer gets nothing. Big surprise. Where's Bertuzzi when you need him? (Note: before any assumes anything, I hate Bertuzzi, think he is scum, and was being facetious.)