I’m not a guy who “hates” hockey players, as a rule. I’m not a big fan of Todd Bertuzzi, as an example, or Mike Comrie, or the Apostate, but I don’t hate them, for a ton of reasons. Matt Cooke bothers me, as does Sean Avery, but hate is too strong of a word.
One of my really strong hockey-watching memories as a teenager involved the one player who I did hate, at least at the time. What made it worse was that he spent three and a half seasons in an Oilers uniform. I don’t have much memory of this player as an Oiler, but he was on the team, managing 44 points in 200-and-some games.
The memory I have is of a 6’2”, 213-pound defenceman going for the knee-on-knee hit on Oilers captain Doug Weight, who was my favourite player at the time. Weight (5’11”, 196 lbs), Oilers fans will remember, had a nasty edge in his own right, and he went after this defenceman. The defenceman dropped to the ice and covered his head as Weight’s gloves flew off and the Oilers captain grabbed him. Weight paused for a second, as if in confusion, and then started whaling on the prone figure, until the referees pulled him off and escorted him to the penalty box. Then, and only then, did Bryan Marchment lift himself off the ice.
It made me sick that Marchment, a vicious goon with the worst of intentions, was employed so long by the Oilers. Of course, I’ve aged since then, and it’s hard to feel as strongly with the incident years in the rearview mirror. It’s also calming to consider that Marchment’s career, already in its twilight, ended in the same play that he had been the aggressor in far too often—a knee-on-knee collision, courtesy of Toronto Maple Leafs forward Jason Allison.
The claiming of Jesse Boulerice off of waivers says a lot of things about the men making decisions in the Oilers front office, and I’m not sure that it says good things. Boulerice is a liability on the ice, a player who hasn’t managed an NHL point in the 43 games he’s played since the lockout. Along with the pointless streak, he’s gone -9 and contributed 93 PIM. It’s well and good for Boulerice to talk about getting another chance here in Edmonton, but it’s hardly his second, or even his third. The amount of time NHL general managers have for this guy is mind-boggling.
Boulerice’s junior career ended nearly a decade ago, in a fashion that should have had him blacklisted by the powers in hockey. Boulerice took a two-handed swing with his stick at the face of junior opponent Andrew Long. Long suffered “a broken nose, multiple facial fractures, a Grade III concussion accompanied by seizure, a contusion of the brain, two black eyes and a gash in his upper lip the size of a handlebar mustache. Had the stick landed a hand’s width higher or lower, Long might have been killed. ”
It isn’t the only incident of this nature in Boulerice’s past. Or for that matter, even in his recent past. Boulerice got hit with a 25-game suspension for his nasty cross-check to the face of Canucks forward Ryan Kesler, a tough suspension, but given his history, not nearly tough enough. How many times does Boulerice need to hit an opposing player in the face with his stick before he realizes it isn’t okay? Is twice enough? Will it happen again?
Boulerice is a thug, from the same general family as Steve MacIntyre, except that unlike MacIntyre, he has twice attempted to end an opposing player’s career with his stick. He’s a disgrace to the game, and it’s unfortunate that the Oilers have decided they want him in their uniform.