I didn’t take offense to much the Canucks did in last Saturday’s tilt with the Boston Bruins. Sure, they went after Shawn Thornton with gusto, but to hear Boston fans tell it, Shawn Thornton fought Mothra in the 1960s and the Canucks are all fairies, so he should have been just fine. And heck, for a guy who was stabbed in the throat with a track javelin, he sure gave it to Tony Gallagher pretty good on Sticks and Stones, huh?
That said, on Monday, I made it clear that I didn’t like Dale Weise’s seeming flip-flop on the non-fight with Shawn Thornton later in the first period. It looked, to me, like he gave every indication that he wanted to fight, then, when the puck dropped and Thornton’s gloves did the same, he changed his mind. I was wrong.
I wasn’t the only one. That’s certainly the way the Boston announcers saw it:
As they say, “Weise clearly was trying to engage Thornton, agreed to go, Thornton said, ‘Fine, I’ll man up,’ and Weise hid.”
Minus the delicately slanted rhetoric, I agreed with this. Weise gave two different excuses — he was tired from having just fought, he was trying to go with Adam McQuaid instead — and I didn’t buy either. I didn’t think he “hid”, as Edwards shouted, but I did think he willfully misled Thornton, which is just as bad, and I fully endorsed his unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.
As it turns out, according to Brad Marchand, who appeared on WEEI radio earlier Wednesday afternoon and discussed the play, Weise, like the rest of us, was had:
I’m going to clear it up for everyone who’s listening,” Marchand said. “It was actually a really sneaky play by Thorty. Weise was trying to fight McQuaid, who was standing behind Thornton on the point. McQuaid was going to fight him. So, Weise was yelling and saying, ‘Yeah, let’s go, let’s go.’
“Thorty just figured that at that point he’d drop his gloves and surprise Weise. And the ref just kind of heard Weise yelling ‘Let’s go’ and thought he was talking to Thorty and conning him into a penalty. Thorty kind of surprised him when Thorty dropped his gloves. Weise had no idea Thorty was going to do that.”
Added Marchand: “Him and Quaider know each other a bit from the minors and I think junior as well. They might have went at [it] there.”
In other words, Weise was telling the truth, and both the short-term and long-term ramifications of this incident — the minor penalty and the reputation for cowardice — are undeserved. We owe him an apology.
Some will say that Weise still chickened out from fighting Thornton, but it’s important to note that Weise did fight earlier in the first, and it’s rare for a player to drop the gloves twice in the same period because it takes so much out of you the first time. For example, despite Thornton’s claim during the ambush of Tony Gallagher on Sticks and Stones that he’d fought three times in a period before, he’s actually never dropped the gloves even twice in a period during a regular-season NHL game. As he would say, “There goes that argument.”
(He did do so once in a preseason game, in 1999, when he was trying to make the NHL. But since that was, you know, 13 years ago, I think we can safely say it’s a rarity.)
Thornton knew it, too. Despite his paisley tie indicating otherwise, he’s a bright guy. He was fully aware that Weise didn’t have much left. But he challenged him anyway, and then he had the nerve to go on Boston radio and crow about it while misleading Tony Gallagher.
Let me be clear here: because of Gallagher’s penchant for hyperbole (40 pounds, Tony, really?), Thornton was able to win the surprise debate. Worse, the similar height and weight measurements of he and Weise will now be a factor in any counterargument claiming Weise should still have fought. But they’re hardly the same class of pugilist. As Thornton indicated when he bragged about fighting the late Derek Boogaard, he’s a heavyweight, a distinction that, when it comes to hockey fights, has nothing to do with actual weight.
Weise just isn’t in that class, and that’s not a slight. Heck, half the league is 6’2″, 210, but when it comes to chucking fists, there aren’t many on the same level as Thornton. It’s one thing to take on Adam McQuaid in your second fight of the period (and he’s pretty freaking tough too), but if you’re angling to go with Thornton, it has to be your first.
In closing, PITB formally apologizes to Dale Weise.
Also in closing, between Weise and Gallagher, a mid-level fighter and a 60-year-old man, why does a rough customer like Shawn Thornton need to ambush everyone to win his battles?Tags: Bruins, dale weise, yes this is still going on