November 1, 2010

Daniel Briere: a Height-Challenged Thug if There ever Was One

On Saturday, with the game out of hand, diminuitive Philadelphia Flyers forward Daniel Briere decided to save some face by trying to disfigure opponent Frans Nielsen's. The only problem was that his team was the one leading 6-1 when he opted to cross-check Nielsen off a face-off deep in the  New York Islanders' zone with one minute left to play. The face he was trying to save was thus not his team's but his own, adding an unneeded element of selfishness to the already cheap shot.

The above highlight pack (care of P.J. Stock and the CBC) adds some context to the situation, for instance:

1) A so-called questionable hit by Islander Trent Hunter on Flyer Andrej Meszaros that, according to Stock, helped to stoke the fires in the game... although the score was already 4-0 at the time of the boarding major.

2) Nielsen talking smack to Briere just before the incident in question. God knows just what he said, but I'm sure it had something to do with Briere being listed as a generous 5'10", 179 pounds. Nielsen is listed as only  5'11", 172 pounds, so clearly either Briere slipped a little something, something to the guy who was in charge of taking his measurements, or some weird black-hole-like phenomenon caused Nielsen to appear a whole foot taller than Briere in the above footage. Seeing that, as if by the grace of magic, Briere was able to deliver the cross-check square to Nielsen's jaw, it must be number two, I suppose.

In any case, two things are absolutely clear: Briere needs to get suspended and goalie Rick DiPietro trying to take off his gloves and take him on afterwards is the picture that should be in the dictionary beside the definition of hilarity. It doesn't get much better than that.

Briere isn't exactly the cleanest player on the ice, which may surprise a few people. In fact, he's been suspended before, which may surprise a few more. In 2006, he got two games for high-sticking then-Boston Bruins defenseman Brian Leetch and in late 2009 he got three games for leaving his feet to meet Colorado Avalanche defenseman Scott Hannan eye-to-eye and then promptly knocking him down with a late hit, the league clearly not understanding the lengths Briere must go to just to say "hi" to another living person. How unpersonable and unsympathetic can one corporate body with three separate offices in North America be, I ask you? The commissioner is garden-gnome-impersonator Gary Bettman, after all!

The Nielsen hit is also but one cheap shot Briere has doled out in retaliation over the years, including this one on Washington Capitals superstar Alex Ovechkin in late 2006. Ovechkin had hit him from behind a few weeks earlier in a much publicized incident, leading few to believe that Briere just accidentally mistook Ovechkin's groin for the puck.

It would seem that if you wrong Briere, it won't be karma that will get you back, but he himself. If you look at the highlight pack from Saturday's game, you'll also notice that just before Briere hit Nielsen, Islander Trevor Gillies, ever the scientific genius trying to prove the existence of gravity by pushing him over, was the one who likely got under Briere's skin initially. Evidently, Briere? Not so much a pushover despite the physical evidence. It's actually become readily apparent that that cute chipmunk-like exterior appearance of his is actually a defense mechanism of sorts that lulls prey in with a false sense of security. Just when they least suspect it, Briere attacks like the mongoose he really is. He's just that vicious, or that tall rather, to be accurately compared to a mongoose.

Anyway, Briere needs to get suspended for this latest incident, not so much because of its severity, but because doing otherwise sends the message that it's okay to do stupid things born out of selfish reasons. Hockey is a team game and Briere time and again has been proven to think only of himself. The league here has a chance to let him know that this won't be tolerated, even if any supplementary discipline taken is under the guise of disciplining the action and not the motivation.

Columbus Blue Jackets forward Rick Nash earlier this season got fined for cross-checking Calgary Flames defenseman Mark Giordano. Briere's was worse for the simple reason that it was premeditated. As such, the league is justified in suspending him here. And it should... and Briere should learn to grow a thicker skin. I mean, getting upset at what are likely jokes about his height? That's so elementary school. I mean, he does look the part, but still...

No comments:

Post a Comment