It’s just one line in a regular injury report:
Itâ€™s not clear if Sharp was injured on a slash from the Red Wingsâ€™ Jiri Hudler after he scored a goal at 4:19 of the first period, or from a fall.
But it stuck out to me: the picture painted by the words “after he scored a goal.” Particularly the word “after.”
Tim Sassone may not mean to do this, but that phrasing suggests an angry Jiri Hudler laying a cheapshot on Patrick Sharp after the fact.
A quick viewing of the replay reveals that Hudler did nothing of the kind, since he and Sharp go almost exact opposite directions following the goal. So what Sassone’s obviously referring to is the slash Hudler lays on just prior to Sharp’s quick windup and release. An innocuous play that nonetheless very well could have led to a small broken bone.
Even allowing that, it was hardly the work of an angry player. But it fits a chosen narrative of the Chicago/Detroit relationship. You know, Ed Olczyk’s favorite posture when color-calling these games: the aggressor Wings acting out against the innocent Blackhawks. It’s one the fans in Chicago have bought fully. Just look at how some chose to respond to Kronwall’s low-grade kronwalling of Andrew Shaw.
Joel Quenneville, of course is comfortable letting that narrative persist. His non-committal responsesÂ to questions about the Sharp injury are great examples of a natural unwillingness to set the record straight. Because the two teams are rivals, obviously. I wouldn’t expect anything else from the coach of Chicago. But he’s the coach, not the media.
I should say Hudler’s not been thrown under the bus in all quarters:Â Brian Hedger (@BrianHedger) has been leaning on the “Sharp fell” cause for the injury and presents some compelling visual evidence. And as I suggested above, Hudler’s slash can’t be ruled out, as anyone whoÂ remembers Bryan Adams’ breaking Henrik Zetterberg’s leg knows. Either of these two incidents could have caused it.
My point is how Hudler’s possible role is framed, and how that fits into a larger narrative I see in this rivalry and often with other fanbases: the Wings as a dirty team.
I’m under no delusion that the Wings are angels, but it feels a little rich for the color guy or fans of a team that employs pond scum like Dan Carcillo to promote that construct with no sense of the irony. The only team with a lower penalty-minute/game average than the Wings is Phoenix. Obviously, the Wings-are-dirty crowd can counter with the claim that they get away with a ton, but I already know I’m not going to change any minds.
I guess I’m just asking for precision in wording from the media to help keep this stuff to a minimum. If Hudler slashes a guy during a shot, it’s not after the goal. Pretty straightforward.
Anyway, it’ll be interesting to see if there’s any Hudler chatter out of the Chicago ‘base leading up to the rematch on Saturday.