Once again, the NHL has been lit up by talks of a player breaking the rules, with condemnations and defenses flying back and forth. There are those who want Ryane Clowe of the San Jose Sharks suspended for his actions against the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday, and there are those who believe what he did was trivial, at best. So what exactly was it that Clowe did?
He sat on the bench, but kept his stick in play during overtime, interfering with Jarret Stoll of the Kings, and he wasn't caught. None of the four officials saw the act, but it's what happened. That's something a little less dramatic than what usually has fans all up in arms (usually a violent hit is concerned), but it's still plenty serious. Clowe broke the rules, and while he denied it in candid manner, it was all very clear and out there.
Nobody knows whether Clowe actively decided he wanted to do that, or if he just ... did it without thinking. The latter is definitely a possibility, especially given some comments from Stoll, who can't believe it happened, can't believe an official didn't see it, and can't believe that Clowe would have actually done that, had he thought things through:
"It's something that I don't think any of us can see much of. You don't see that play happen a lot. I'm sure Clowe will say afterwards that he didn't know what he was thinking, either. It's just one of those plays. You hope they see it, and they didn't. What can you do? Move on. We've gotten some calls this year that maybe we shouldn't have gotten, and maybe it evens it up."
That's a great stance for Stoll to take on the situation, and very mature, given that the game ended in a 6-5 shootout victory for the Sharks that brought them to a tie atop the Pacific Division, at least as far as points are concerned. Los Angeles holds the tiebreaker, but they're set to play again on Saturday, regardless.
So, what should happen with Clowe based on this blatant eschewing of the rules of hockey? Should he be suspended like the outraged Los Angeles fans are claiming, or should it be treated different? If you think about it, Clowe's penalty was nothing more than something like, say, hooking.
We've seen players really obviously commit hooking penalties, often with 100 percent intentions to do so beforehand. Because they're so blatantly hooking, should they be suspended? No? Then why should Clowe, who certainly didn't impact a game more than your average hooking call, be suspended?
The issue here is one of visibility, not severity.
An interesting take on the situation comes from non-other than CSN Bay Area's Ray Ratto, who doesn't necessarily weigh in on the punishments Clowe should receive, but extols the benefits of playing on the dirtier side of hockey. Clowe is no stranger to that, Ratto says, and Sharks fans are now starting to see that.
Personally, I disagree with Ratto, in that the fans thinking this isn't such a big deal isn't necessarily embracing dirty play. We've all laughed at one of our favorite players tripping a player we dislike, and this act didn't even involve bodily harm. I'll admit that Clowe did what he did knowing full well what he was doing, and I also don't think it's a big deal.
I'll also admit I always preferred the Sith to the Jedi, so who knows what that means?