The NHL postseason is emotional for players and fans alike. Players are so charged up and are giving everything they have. Off the ice, rabid fans are losing their voices in packed NHL arenas. The intensity is so high players are throwing their bodies around at full speed, which is why you see occasional dangerous and sometimes nasty hits. In the playoffs these incidents get amplified because of the possible impact. Nazem Kadri’s low check on Alex Ovechkin was the perfect example.
I believe this is the rule that Kadri should have been called under. pic.twitter.com/ZTIdsaD0dH
— James Mirtle (@mirtle) April 21, 2017
Many, including myself thought the hit was strategic and unjust. Watching it over and over left me furious with Kadri’s obvious motive.
@JRPothier Amazing how one cheap shot can change me from rooting for the underdog to the favorite
— michael dalsky (@rudy7799) April 22, 2017
So what do we do if players with a tainted reputation end up in Las Vegas? How can we root for dirty players that potentially suit up for the Golden Knights? Some players made mistakes and have cleaned up their acts and others continue to cheapshot. Let’s be glad Matt Cooke is out of the league.
Calvert’s name has made multiple mock drafts, including Fox Sports earlier this month.
If you didn’t know Calvert before the playoffs, I’m sure you do now.
Matt Calvert deserves a suspension for this hit. Absolutely classless. pic.twitter.com/KrsWqKIrqZ
— #burghproud (@taylastivka) April 15, 2017
His late attack on Tom Kuhnhackl was clearly malicious and deserved the suspension. Emotions got the better of him, but overall he’s not a repeat offender. Calvert is a decent NHL player and Vegas fans shouldn’t find it difficult to root for.
There are some that think Bieksa will waive his NMC and allow his exposure in Anaheim. I tend to disagree because it’s not the best move for Bieksa’s career and the NHLPA will frown upon players waiving NMCs. To the players union every waived NMC could hurt future player contracts. Nevertheless, Bieksa is on many mock drafts. I called him Mr. Excitement because of his overall personality on and off the ice. He plays right on the line.
Many fans consider Bieksa a cheap shot artist but overall he’s had a productive career. I don’t see Bieksa having any trouble winning over Golden Knight fans.
Again, I have to start by saying I don’t think Hendricks will be selected by Vegas but if he is were could have a real dilemma. The Edmonton Oiler is another player who plays right on the line. His incredibly dangerous hit on Aaron Ekblad last season earned him a fine and suspension.
On top of that, the league was torn apart by the press because the play was never penalized on the ice. Critics argued Hendricks’ hit proved the NHL was still far behind the pack on head injury safety. Hendricks has since learned from that scary boarding check on Ekblad and was neither fined or suspended this season. He’d be cheered in Las Vegas.
I had to throw one villain in, and Ott is the classic example. If I had to guess, Ott would be the least liked player by NHL fans. His history of complete recklessness on the ice has constantly earned him league punishment. He’s as close to dirty as players in the NHL come.
Although, rough and intimidating Ott has had a surprisingly effective NHL career. Would it be tough to root for his antics on the ice? Sure, but I know he plays a role, and let’s face it, Ott would only average 10-11 minutes of ice-time per game.
There are only a few guys in the league who could make it tough for Vegas fans to root for. Overall, most are players fans would eventually appreciate. Well, other than Ott of course. In reality, The Creator and George McPhee are not looking to bring in goons. They know it’s not good for business on several levels. Mainly, the fear of being labeled a dirty team right from the jump, a label that would be tough to shed. On top of that, the game is changing and players are taking player safety more serious. Kadri’s hit on Ovechkin could’ve been extremely devastating for the Capitals and the league. It’s designed hits like Kadri’s that will make me turn sour on any team. Hopefully, the Golden Knights will never be involved with cheap play. It’s the one thing that can stain a perfect sport.