Regardless if you are a fan of the Mad House on Madison and the Chicago Blackhawks, or a diehard St. Louisan who bleeds Blue, it is undeniable that the behavior of Hawks captain Jonathan Toews and assistant captain Duncan Keith in the aftermath of one of the dirtiest hits in playoff history, delivered by Brent Seabrook, was, at best, appalling and completely classless.
After the husky Hawks defenseman, Seabrook, launched his body into the head of the defenseless Blues captain, David Backes, there was no doubt to the 19,000+ at Scottrade Center that the leader of the Blues was knocked unconscious momentarily and appeared to have suffered a concussion.
And while most hockey fans have unfortunately grown accustomed to watching shots to the head and marquee players suffer brain trauma, what happened after the hit, while the Blues medical staff was attending to Backes, was something that no Blues fan, or true hockey fan, will ever forget.
With one knee still on the ice, blurred vision through a foggy half-shield and a dazed look like we’ve never seen on the face of Backes, the core leadership group of the Blackhawks decided that this was the one chance they had to get a few jabs in on Backes where they knew they had a fighting chance to win the chirp battle.
While Backes was being held up by the Blues trainer, with the help of the referee, Towes and Keith hung around the injured Backes and starting spewing pathetic lines that were caught on the game’s audio broadcast.
Keith is reported to chirp “Wakey, Wakey, Backey. Wakey, Wakey”, while Toews got up in the face of Backes and seemed to laugh at the fact that Backes‘ brain was smashed so hard into his skull from an illegal hit that he could not stand on his own two feet.
And this isn’t just the my perspective of the hit, this was reported yesterday by one of the best hockey writers out there, Puck Daddy himself, Greg Wyshynski. Read his disturbing claims here and watch the video for yourself.
The NHL has yet to make any statement on the Keith and Toews trash talk, but did decide to once again show their lack of concern over brain injuries, handing out a minimal 3-game suspension to Seabrook for the blatant head shot. The NHL missed the boat, again, on this and when the lawsuits continue to roll into the league from former players still dealing with the long-lasting effects of brain injuries, this will be another instance for attorneys to look back at to prove in a court of law how lackadaisical and irresponsible Gary Bettman and his staff handle discipline in regards to brain damage and concussions.
And it’s not just hockey writers and Blues fans who noticed the immaturity and inexcusable behavior of the Hawks’ captains, as St. Louis Blues enforcer, Ryan Reaves, spoke about it in a story published by the Chicago Tribune:
I saw them talking to him. It makes it a little more gutless. I don’t think there’s any need for that when a hit like that happens. You don’t need to be going after him when he doesn’t even know where he really is.
I’m not happy about that. I don’t think anybody in this organization is happy about it. To see that happen, I think is just embarrassing in that organization.”
So no doubt the bad blood and tension between this historic rivalry has grown ten-fold since the chirp heard round the world on Saturday, but I just feel embarrassed, not only as a hockey fan, but as a human being, for the disgraceful, child-like behavior displayed by Seabrook, Keith and Toews. There is no justifying those acts that unfortunately tarnish the reputation of a historic original six franchise and the shield of the NHL.
Like all Blues fans, I am hoping that Backes will take the proper rest and time off needed to get his strength and focus back before rejoining the team. And of course the loss of the team captain and the number one centerman will have a lasting impact on the Blues’ Cup chances, but these types of situations allow you to realize that there is more to life than hockey, and that the health of your brain and body comes first.
It’s just sad to know that a team with superstars who behave with such despicable class like we saw on Saturday, or a guy like Patrick Kane who punches defenseless cab drivers over a tip, and a coach who can’t stop touching himself, get so much praise and recognition in hockey circles.
But hey, leave it to guys with character like this to choke in the final minute of the first two playoff games and lose in overtime.
I say this, in all seriousness, to the Blackhawks’ leaders and fans, just like how your mother used to feel, we’re not mad at you, we’re just really disappointed.
And remember boys, Karma is a bitch.