No one in Montreal needs reminding of the Eric Gryba/Lars Eller incident in the first game of the 2013 Eastern Conference Quarterfinal. Gryba’s heavy hit ended Eller’s season. Ottawa fans, media and the Senators shrugged it off as the result of a suicide pass by “number 61” Raphael Diaz. At the same time, in Montreal Gryba was being portrayed as the hockey equivalent of an axe-murderer. In the cold light of day the incident was something in between – a hockey play that went badly wrong resulting in a blow to the head.
The real problem was the Canadiens inability to rise above their vows of retaliation and vengeance. Team discipline came unglued and the Habs went down in five games in a series marred by a game three brawl.
A cold examination of P.K. Subban’s slash on Senators forward Mark Stone Wednesday night would lead to the opinion that, like the Gryba/Ellert incident, this was a hockey play that went wrong. In order to execute an injury-inducing slash Subban would have to keep his eye on the target. A close look at the video below shows Subban’s attention directed elsewhere as he swung his stick. Players are responsible for their actions and even Subban admitted Thursday that the five minute penalty was warranted. Subban also said he didn’t think the slash was all that hard. Hard enough to break a bone in Stone’s wrist and cause some ligment damage though.
In the aftermath the scene at the Bell Centre was the eerily familiar to the one we witnessed two years ago only in different dressing rooms. . From the coach on down, the Senators were talking retribution. General manager Bryan Murray said Subban had threatened Stone twice before the incident something barely believable. Coach Dave Cameron threatened to authorize the injuring of a member of the Canadiens if NHL Player Safety didn’t suspend Subban. All familiar stuff.
There’s an old saying that goes “revenge is a dish best served cold”. Another goes “Those who fail to read history are doomed to repeat it.” The best revenge for the Senators would be to win the series. The only way they can do that is by reining in their emotions and getting back to playing their game.
Not that anyone in Montreal cares but the Senators are in the precarious place the Canadiens were two years ago, in danger of seeing the discipline that allowed them to mount their cinderella charge to a playoff berth come completely off the rails.