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FISCHLER: NHL has gone too far with Trottier

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foxsports admin

 
   
 
So, Bryan Trottier and have been suspended for their last-second shenanigans in Columbus. What does it mean? For starters, it tells you that times certainly have changed in the NHL. When Hall of Famer Gordie Howe was rampaging through the league in his prime — from 1948 through the late 1960s — butt-ends, slashes and other bits of mayhem were commonplace. The Gordie Howe elbow was considered as much a part of the game as his splendid goal-scoring and playmaking. As my wife, Shirley, likes to point out, "Gordie Howe belongs in the Hall of Fame, his elbows belong to the Hall of Infamy." Old-time hockey had a frontier quality to it because the game developed in the rough-and-tumble Canadian prairies. But that was long ago. In case you hadn't noticed, the calendar says it's 2002. Gary Bettman is commissioner — not Clarence Campbell. Bettman's NHL has been significantly sanitized from the good [dirty] old days when bench-clearing brawls put the Philadelphia on the hockey map. Bettman has vowed to clean up the game, which is good to a point. But some of us believe the fellow has gone too far. Hockey Night in Canada commentators have been lamenting the absence of body contact in NHL games this year. I have seen too many instances of diving, as well as legitimate hits being called penalties. One of hockey's selling points has long been physical contact, if not actual violence. One of Howe's favorite lines was, "Hockey is a man's game." It's still a "man's game" but a lot less tough than it used to be. Trottier played the way Howe did. I remember a hit he put on Bob Gainey during a playoff game at Nassau Coliseum. Bryan smashed the Montreal Hall of Famer so hard into the end boards that Gainey fell to the ice unconscious. Trottier did not get a penalty on the play. The won the game and the series. Trottier's hit was credited with helping the convert a loss into a major win. Here's the irony: Had Bryan done the same thing this season, he would have been slapped down with an "intent to injure" and likely would have been suspended for a couple of games. The bottom line: Bettman has set a new standard and is sticking with it. Trottier must now understand this and adjust accordingly. As for Trotts, he has to get his act — and the ' — together pronto. I maintain — as I did at the start of the season — that Glen Sather has provided Bryan with a winning lineup. I said then and I say now: The three most important people on the are Trottier, Jim Schoenfeld and Terry O'Reilly. They have been given the ingredients for a winner but it's the distillation that counts. The combination must be distilled into a winner. That's why the trio was hired and that's what they must do. But let us remember, the 82-game season is a marathon, not a sprint. Remember, fans, there's plenty of time to straighten out the hockey team. Known as "The Hockey Maven" in both local and national circles, Stan Fischler is one of the most outspoken authorities on the game of hockey. Fischler can be seen offering NHL analysis on "MSG SportsDesk" and on Fox Sports Net's "Regional Sports Report -- New York Edition." Fischler also provides studio interviews and pre- and post-game features and reports for both the and on FSN. His columns appear regularly on MSGNetwork.com.
Tagged: Devils, Islanders, Rangers, Flyers

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