The ethical wasteland that is the facewash.

The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Toronto Maple Leafs. All opinions expressed by Mike Ulmer are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Toronto Maple Leafs or its Hockey Operations staff, parent company, partners, or sponsors. His sources are not known to the Maple Leafs and he has no special access to information beyond the access and privileges that go along with being an NHL accredited member of the media.
If you think this is okay, you can't really talk about facewashing protocol.

If you think this is okay, you can’t really talk about facewashing protocol.

Okay, this is not an anti-fighting tirade.

This is a what happens when you allow fighting tirade.

This is about the code and by association the scrum that swept up Mikhail Grabovski and the Canadiens’ Max Pacioretty.

In case you haven’t heard, the league declined to suspend Grabovski for what Pacioretty said was a bite in a scrum Saturday night.

The facewash in hockey is as old as shin pads. Sometimes it’s penalized, sometimes it’s not but if you ticketed every player who gave another guy the business the penalty box would look like the King streetcar during rush hour.

Anticipating what the league would do had become pretty good fun because the incident cast a spotlight on the vaunted and altogether fictional  NHL code of conflict.

Personally, I would rather a guy bite my arm than rotate my head 90 degrees when I am powerless to stop him.  Both are acts of violence and to penalize a bite is to say it is less grievous than an attack from behind. I just don’t see how you can distinguish between the two.

There is no code and the more time we spend talking about it moves us the farther away from common sense.

The Flyers Zac Rinaldo and Tampa’s B.J. Crombeen  were willing participants in a middleweight bout in which Rinaldo hit Crombeen when the Lightning player was dazed and defenceless.

That was supposed to be a violation of the code as well.

Good luck with that. If you say it’s okay for the two to fight, you can’t expect Rinaldo to stop swinging when his opponent stumbles.

If you have fighting, if you are okay with two guys punching each other (and most hockey fans are), you can’t expect Rinaldo to stop hitting the guy he’s supposed to be hitting.

Likewise, if you keep the facewash as it has to be treated, as fighting’s distant cousin, you can’t expect to penalize it harshly.  If it’s okay to slam your forearm into a guy’s mouth in the mosh pit, you can’t really complains that he chewed.

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About Mike Ulmer

Mike Ulmer has written 210 post in this blog.

The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Toronto Maple Leafs. All opinions expressed by Mike Ulmer are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Toronto Maple Leafs or its Hockey Operations staff, parent company, partners, or sponsors. His sources are not known to the Maple Leafs and he has no special access to information beyond the access and privileges that go along with being an NHL accredited member of the media.



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