It was ugly. It was cheap and predatory. When Mark Scheifele charged and hit a defenseless Jake Evans after scoring an empty net goal, he has lost the respect of many hockey fans. Habs’ fans, for sure. At the time, Shea Weber and Joel Edmundson were on the ice, restrained, trying to get to the Jets’ captain. They were unable to do so in spite of their effort, while Nikolaj Ehlers was doing everything in his power to protect a motionless Evans.
To make matter worse, Scheifele never apologized for his hit. He didn’t even show any remorse, prefering to put the blame on his victim instead. What’s more dangerous that being stupid? It’s not knowing that you are. Someone, some day, will remind him.
When the two teams face off tonight in Winnipeg, it will be the first time since the event, since the Canadiens swept the Jets in the playoffs to advance to the Stanley Cup semi-finals. The difference is that there is no Weber and no Edmundson to remind Scheifele how bad his cheap shot was.
Who will it be?
In the playoffs last year, Corey Perry would volunteer to do it. In normal time, without the two big Clydesdales in the line-up, I’d say that Josh Anderson would pay a visit to Scheifele and teach him a lesson. But just days ago, Anderson blocked a shot… with his face. He had blurry vision from it. I bet it’s still sore and who knows if there is damage still present.
Do people really want to see big Ben Chiarot go after Scheifele? While there is no doubt that he would want to avenge the assault, he broke his hand last season in a fight. Does he – or does the organisation – really want him to risk an injury in a fight prior to trade deadline, when they’re looking at trading him?
“Send Pezzetta”, some fans are saying. Folks, you’re forgetting something… or someone. There’s a guy on the other side called Adam Lowry, a 6’5″ mastodonte, and you can rest assured that he also has this date circled on the calendar, wanting to protect his captain.
The Canadiens want to change direction, by focussing on skills and speed for the future. Then expect to run into Jeff Petry type of situation when, a few weeks ago, he was chastised for not defending Samuel Montembeault. Don’t expect non-fighters to drop the gloves when it’s management’s decision to not protect them on the ice… as it was like for years prior to Marc Bergevin.
Here’s hoping that management has the common-sense to keep some physicality and grit on the team as they go forward. Yes, you need sugar to make a cake. But you can’t replace baking powder by sugar. The cake won’t rise.