Stanley Cup Finals: Nail-Biters or Finger-Biters?

In case you missed it, something unusual happened in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals last week. Near the end of the 1st period, Alex Burrows of the Vancouver Canucks and Patrice Bergeron of the Boston Bruins locked horns following some aggressive late-period play. Hockey fans and players see this all the time. Guys constantly size each other up through the course of a game - even more so in the NHL. It’s usually very routine...they bump one another, say a few choice words, maybe a face-wash, it’s just hockey. For those of you who don’t know, a face-wash is when you rub the sweaty palm of your glove all over your opponent’s face. Gross right? I know. But, it’s hockey. Anyway, on this particular occasion, these events unfolded exactly as I just outlined. Usually, this is so routine the players involved just skate away out of sheer boredom. But, not this time. This time was different. When Bergeron put his glove near Burrows’ face, Burrows opened his mouth, took in one of Bergeron’s padded fingers and bit down. That’s right, he bit the guy...and unless you haven’t watched ANY sports news in the past week, you’ve probably seen the footage of this now infamous event several times. Some find it funny, others disgusting. Personally, I find it completely despicable.

Tainted

The moment Burrows chomped on Bergeron’s finger, he ceased to be a respected player of the NHL. He instantly became a classless jerk to the fans, a coward to his opponents, and disrespectful to everyone who wears his colors. As a player myself, I completely understand about “the heat of the moment”. As Anthony Perkins said in Psycho, “We all go a little mad sometimes”. Moreover, agitating, aggrevating, and intimidating your opponent can be valuable tools in getting him off his game. I’m definitely a proponent of such tactics. However, there is such a thing as sportsmanship. As we found out last week, Burrows doesn’t have any.

I don’t know if this was an isolated incident in which Burrows simply let the frustration of the moment get to him, or if we got a glimpse into the true colors of his nature. It really doesn’t matter. He’ll be “the guy who bit that Boston dude” for now and years to come.

Be Cool, Not Cold

We all break the rules. We all lose our cool. We all make stupid mistakes. The important thing is to respect the game and players around you. Regardless of what happens out there, when the game’s over, shake hands and leave it on the ice. In the end, it’s just a game.

As for Burrows, the Bruins have already exacted their own brand of justice. They’ve teased Burrows and many of the Canucks with fingers in their faces “daring” them to bite. A silly, if not entertaining response. One could argue it was an effective one as well, since the Bruins have tied the series 2-2, taking the last 2 games. Either way, the Bruins have been smart enough to hit the Canucks where it hurts the most - the scoreboard.

Unfortunately for Burrows, from now until the end of his career, the media will run that footage every time he’s mentioned on TV. But look at the bright side Alex, at least when you retire you can always reminisce with Mike Tyson about your days in the Pros.

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