There are many elements of hockey that have gone painfully soft in recent (or the past ten) years.
Whether it’s the lack of fighting, spineless calls for “roughing,” or just a general need to strangle this wonderful game with a diaper, the NHL action isn’t as fierce as it used to be.
So when I see St. Louis Blues’ defenseman Vince Dunn light up Andrew Mangiapane on Thursday night during a game with the Calgary Flames, I smile like a kid who just located the secret stash of chocolate chip cookies. It was a thing of beauty, please check it out.
They are right. Dunn did destroy poor Andrew, and I am here for more destruction.
I’m not here to tell you whether or not Dunn will be fined, suspended or stoned in the streets by the NHL Player Safety Board of Lame Souls. I truly don’t give a shit. It was a fantastic hit, and I won’t make Dunn apologize for it. It’s the same thing that Brayden Schenn did to a Tampa Bay Lightning player on Tuesday for admiring a pass. You climb over those boards, and you should know it may be a bad shift.
These guys aren’t playing angry badminton out there; it’s hockey. You know, the sport where having all your teeth is a rarity. The kind of sport where a player can break his jaw and continue to play. The kind of sport where a human being gets rocked into the boards, forcing him for a split second to forget his name and date of birth. The kind of sport that used to celebrate unhinged toughness instead of putting it in a corner while the FAST (calm down, Panger!) sport takes over.
According to Jeremy Rutherford, Blues legend Bobby Plager said he dishes out around 15 of those Dunn hits in the press box. Back in the day (which was also a Thursday), Plager would hand 10-15 of those hits out per game. It wasn’t a WHOA moment back then because it was more common.
These days, the first thing people think about is whether or not it will warrant a suspension. Imagine punishing a player for doing what head coaches and the origin of the sport told him to do. It’s not like Andrew messed around with Vince’s girl or stole his steak at lunch; it’s hockey and it’s hard. If it wasn’t hard, basketball players would do it too.
Dunn is an impressive talent. The kid is only getting warmed up. He just turned 23 years old, and put up 35 points last year. He’s playing around 15 minutes per game, so his production will only go up as he finds more time on the ice. Expect that to increase next year when Jay Bouwmeester steps down and the youth continues to ride into Enterprise. After the annihilation of Mangiapane, Dunn sealed St. Louis’ shutout victory with a wicked wrist shot from the slot.
He’s got four points in his last three games and is rounding into shape. Sure, there’s a few “WTF is that Shattenkirk” moments in his game from time to time, but he’s still young and learning. The important thing is Dunn plays the game like a savvy veteran most of his minutes, and knows how to lay someone out. It’ll only get better.
Allow me to apologize for not having a picture of the hit as my posting picture, but the ice detectives haven’t released the photos yet due to the area still being an active crime scene.
Dunn’s hit is unfortunately a rarity these days. As Art Lippo commonly states on Twitter, these kind of hits can make hockey great again.
One destruction at a time, ladies and gents. Old time hockey isn’t dead yet.