Anaheim Ducks forward Corey Perry is an enigma — a gifted scorer who has an edge but can’t seem to play a clean, physical game.
During the second period of the Ducks’ 3-1 victory over the Red Wings on Tuesday, Perry skated across the Wings crease, in between goalie Jimmy Howard and defenseman Nik Kronwall.
Perry, in trying to avoid Howard, leaped in air and clipped Howard in the face with his skate. Perry received a two-minute goalie-interference penalty, which the Wings squandered.
Howard appeared momentarily dazed but continued to play. After the game, he downplayed the incident.
“His skate just hit me in the face,” Howard told reporters. “I was trying to get out of the way. It was nothing. It was harmless.”
Thinking about it for the last couple of days, I believe Perry’s skate-scrape of Howard’s face was intentional and warranted a fine, maybe even a suspension.
In typical NHL fashion, the league did nothing because Howard wasn’t injured on the play.
If blood isn’t spilled, a bone isn’t broken or nobody’s knocked out, then it’s just good old playoff hockey.
That’s why the NHL still has a tough time overcoming its status as little more than a niche sport in the United States.
We’re a violent country; however, we won’t tolerate cheap shots or dirty play.
Perry might be a bit of a cement head, but his ice awareness is uncanny. Every move he makes is calculated. He’s that talented of a player.
Imagine the outcry if Howard were seriously cut or hammered into oblivion. We would have seen the play countless times by now, and every pundit in North American would have weighed in about brutality on the ice.
Hockey is only the lead story when some act of savagery is committed, and that doesn’t help promote the game.
Until the NHL’s power-brokers realize (especially during the playoffs) that intent — not injury — should be the sole criteria when handing down disciplinary action, the sport will remain marginal to mainstream America.