From time to time Cory and I will have a bit of a "clash" here on the blog. With all due respect to my friend and cohort, I disagree with his article about it being time to forgive Brooks Orpik.
First of all, to even mention the Scott Walker/Aaron Ward incident in the same breath as what happened between Erik Cole/Brooks Orpik, is an injustice. Cole's hit was totally unprovoked while Ward initiated much of what happened prior to Walker decking him. Was Walker right in what he did? No, and he will admit it, but that was as close to an altercation as you can have without actually being in one. All Cole was doing was chasing down a puck when he got nailed.
Most importantly, the extent of Ward's injuries were a black eye and a bruised ego. He'll be back to being the good ole' smart ass Aaron Ward he always has been. Erik Cole on the otherhand had his career and life altered. Before the hit, Cole had 30 goals and 29 assists in 60 games. He has yet to return to form, and will undoubtedly suffer the monetary consequences come contract time this summer.
Last but not least, Walker showed immediate remorse. He recognized what he had done and leaned down to check on Ward on the spot. That is what might have saved him from being suspended.
Orpik has never shown any public remorse. He reportedly attempted to contact Cole awhile after the incident, and was rebuffed. One has to wonder just how sincere the attempted apology was, considering the circumstances.
I do agree with Cory that the defenseman has not totally crossed the line, (although he has straddled it), since then. He's tough and mean, but usually pretty clean. (If not on the borderline).
But let's put all this aside for a moment and assume that Orpik is the nicest guy in the NHL. Pretend that he's up for the Lady Byng this year.
In my opinion, Caniacs still have every right to keep the "B.O. hate" for as long as they want to. Fans, (short for fanatics), can be irrational at times. They can be unreasonable. And Caniacs have hated players for much less than what Orpik did.
I remember some of my most enjoyable nights at the ESA, (now RBC), back at the turn of the century. (does that make me sound old?) The most important ticket that I always had to have was when the Flyers came to town. Why? So I could listen to and partake in booing Keith Primeau.
Perhaps I am a bit weird, but I loved the atmosphere at those games. Who can forget the "Primodonna" signs? Or when fans threw fake money at him when he entered the tunnel?
What exactly did Primeau do to earn Carolina's wrath? Well, he did not break anyone's neck.
After a long and contentious contract dispute, things got a bit nasty between the Primeau camp and Hurricanes management. The Canes leaked out some of the numbers which the former Hurricanes captain was rejecting, and fans started to sour. The final straw was when Primaeu's exasperated agent was quoted as saying that the star would not sign in Carolina for any amount of money. He may have also said a few negative words about the franchise as well as not wanting to play in this non-hockey market.
Many fans took this as a personal insult and carried the hatred for years, even though Carolina probably got the better of the eventual trade which sent Primeau to Flytown and Rod Brind'Amour to Raleigh.
My point in all of this? Fans are fans and it's fun to hate and boo villains, even if it's unwarranted. Caniacs always booed the (great) Scott Stevens. One Hurricanes fan even went to his Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Toronto just to heckle him. (perhaps a bit extreme?).
If you want to forgive and forget, that's cool. If you prefer to boo and carry your dislike for someone to the grave, that's cool too. As a fan, it is probably much more fun to carry the hate.
Do you think Boston fans will forgive Scott Walker next season?