Wednesday, September 26, 2007

System of a Down

Cross-posted to Hockey Will Tear Us Apart.

Just as he got over the centre red line, heading towards the offensive blueline, he clearly identified McAmmond in the far corner, beginning to move behind the net, and Downie sprinted at top speed. It was clear from way before the moment of contact what he was doing and what was going to happen if McAmmond didn't alter his course. It was like watching a high-speed auto accident unfold right in front of you.

To Downie's credit, I suppose, he did stop churning his legs and began to glide, mitigating the issue of a charge to some degree. But there was never any doubt in my mind what was in Downie's mind, he was going avenge the hit he took and McAmmond was going to pay the price.

-- Bob McKenzie

On McAmmond

Current status: Dean has been released from the hospital with no serious injury. He is expected in Scotiabank Place today for treatment.

We should expect this to be a long-term injury. McAmmond has a colourful history of past concussions and with his age, his long-term brain health is the most important thing.

Dean is a huge loss for the Senators. He was such a reliable player, and even though this allows a rookie to make the team (Nikulin? Foligno?), they won't have his experience.

Also, we won the game 4-2.

Worst headline: McAmmond goes Downie.

On Downie

He's not a dirty player -- there is a difference between a calculated intent to injure, and an inability to calculate at all. Steve Downie isn't known for dirty hits, he's known for general psychotic behaviour: attacking players, beating up a rookie because the rookie refused to strip and cram into a bus bathroom. He's been suspended from the OHL more times than anyone cares to keep track.

Sure, it's to his advantage to be tenacious and edgy but there's a fine line between physical and psycho. Won't someone, anyone, sit him down and tell him that he needs to stop following his emotions and use his goddamn brain?

Shouldn't it have occured to him that this was a preseason game? Shouldn't Downie have realized that headhunting is a hyperbolic overreaction to whatever he thought wasn't being called? Shouldn't Downie have realized that he was essentially targeting whatever is left of Dean McAmmond's brain?

Shouldn't Downie have realized that he had just intentionally, violently hurt another human being and felt some sort of sympathy? Many reports are coming out that Downie was giggling as blood gurgled from Dean McAmmond's nose and mouth.

At least Colby Armstrong had the emotional intelligence to be concerned. Downie has never apologized for his actions in the OHL, even though he got his entire team's staff fired, even though he's been suspended so many times. He destroyed an entire team and never once said sorry. That's why I don't believe his "heartfelt remorse" statement after the game. He hasn't changed. He's just getting better at PR.

Downie has always been a battler on the ice, in part to answer the personal challenges he faced. His father, John Downie, was killed in an auto accident when he was driving seven-year-old Steve to an early morning practice in Everett, Ont. Ann Downie took over driving her sons, Steve and Greg, to hockey practices and maintaining the family farm in Queensville, a hamlet north of Toronto.

At age 13, Downie lost the hearing in his right ear. He wears a hearing aid off the ice. All through those life challenges, Downie displayed one stoic trait he never complained.

“After all that has happened and all he has had to overcome, you never see Steve feeling sorry for himself,” Twohey said. “He’s an upbeat kid, a positive kid who is liked by all his teammates.”

You know, Steve, saying sorry isn't the same thing as feeling sorry for yourself.

Unless someone in a mentor role takes control of Steve Downie right now, there will be bigger hits and bigger consequences to come. He has the history of violence and clearly lacks stability and emotional control. He's a psychopath!

I loathe the day I see his face on a newspaper again.

Lastly, perhaps it's beyond my concern as just a hockey fan, but I worry about Steve Downie off the ice. I don't believe that you can just "turn it off" away from the arena; that sort of rage is praticed and instilled. I wouldn't want to be around him when he gets angry.

Why I Love the Ottawa Senators

Throughout the entire scrum that followed Downie's hit, Patrick Eaves was trying to shove bodies off McAmmond, get the medical staff, and push the doctor onto the ice as fast as he could. Then he made sure we won the game for Dean with 2 assists.

Dean and Patrick are close off the ice, and the last time Patrick was knocked out, Dean literally fought for him, against Maxim Talbot.

It's us against the world.


McPhizzle said...

I freakin love your post. I couldn't have said it better myself.

Poor McAmmond... Hopefully this is his last head-injury for a long while. If he gets too many more he'll have to be spoon-fed. Sure, I use that as a joke when refering to Roenick and Lindros all the time, but it's a serious threat to the health of these men. Head/Brain injuries are serious stuff, skippy, no matter how you slice it.

Whether he was playing with his head down or not, McKenzie's statement goes to show that while it might have been a cleaner hit than it looked like, that McAmmond was marked. Not cool, Downie, not cool.

You're right about not being able to turn this on and off like a lightswitch and be Dr. Stevie and Mr. Take them Downie. I think the league should look into this as more than just this incident. If a player gets a DUI, they go through alcoholism courses - I think a little anger management or psychiatric evaluation may be in order here.

Sherry said...

What's disturbing is that Downie has been through psychiatric sessions before-- and it's clearly not helped. It just irks me something fierce that McAmmond might have to hang them up because of this. There are a lot of NFL players who talk about life after serious concussions and it is not a pretty picture and of all people it has to happen to a class act like Dean McAmmond.

For all the hand-wringing the PA does about being concerned about the players' welfare, I'd really appreciate it if they made a bigger stink about workplace safety instead of worrying about how many zeros are on their paychecks next time. Yeesh. Sorry if that seemed a bit harsh.

Shmee said...

That was a really well written post, I second McP.

Downie is a complete loose cannon. He is the guy that used to harass 07 draft pick Akim Aliu (he was the kid that refused to be packed into a filthy bus bathroom and Downie physically and emotionally harassed him for it).

I think you are completely right when you say that Downie needs some help, and I hope the Rangers stop their usual "blind eye" policy towards players.

Sasky said...

Thank you for such a great post.

I adore and always will adore Patrick Eaves and how much heart and passion/compassion he shows.

He's a true hockey player to me as a person and a player.

the little forward who could.

Kerriberry7228 said...

Although I do feel sorry for Downie's part history, I'm down right scared of him as well.

Amen, Sherry. Lockouts over money, but we can still gun for players head and knees...

Oh, and Shmee... the Rangers didn't turn a blind eye. He's Flyer property now.

Sherry said...

His junior team was the Kitchener Rangers, he was drafted by Philly. He was bounced around a couple of times all through his junior career and practically half the organization lost their jobs when he was traded from Windsor over that unnecessary incident with Akim Aliu.

Kerriberry7228 said...

Ahhh, thank you, I knew I didn't know the story. Assuming makes an ass of you and me :P.

Has Downie been suspended for this yet or what?

Anonymous said...

And thank you for not jumping down Army's throat for that hit. As someone who's given legal if disabling blows in the name of sport, if you DON'T feel some sort of sympathy for your victim, accidental or otherwise, there's something seriously wrong with you.

If you read other news reports, Army called Eaves to apologize, and supposedly was a wreck on the bench for the rest of the game.

-Teka, Brigadier General, Army's Army.

Heather B. said...

For all the hand-wringing the PA does about being concerned about the players' welfare, I'd really appreciate it if they made a bigger stink about workplace safety instead of worrying about how many zeros are on their paychecks next time. Yeesh. Sorry if that seemed a bit harsh.

Sherry, I'm in total agreement. If this keeps up they're going to have a generation of players who are totally scrambled in their middle age years. I know the players have this hang up about wanting to police themselves on the ice but that clearly isn't working. Teammates coming to McAmmond's defense after the hit is all well and good but it's after the hit! It's too late to change the fact that he's out cold on the ice. Everyone involved in the decision making process in the NHL needs to get their heads out of their asses on this issue and they really need to do it before someone dies on the ice. Watching that hit made me terrified for Tim Connolly who, like everyone else in the league, doesn't deserve to have his career ended or his life altered because of an asshole player who's incapable of treating his opponent with some respect. How many times did we say this last season? Someone needs to start taking this much more seriously.

AQG, great post!

Shmee said...

Such a bad hockey commenting week for me...I meant the FLYERS, not the Rangers.

Ladies, I promise to cut down on the weeknight drinking. Probably.

Nadine said...

So, breaking with what some would think of me as a Flyers fan...

I don't care to see Downie play ever again, at all. Philly plays physical hockey, true. But this is not what I want to see, and in no way necessary.

Nowhere in society is this acceptable, not even in the rest of the sports world. (Boxing and UFC will call a match if some guy's getting pounded too much.)

My take is that Downie needs:

a. A good ass-reaming over this.
b. A nice long suspension with no pay at all.
c. To be told that anything like this (or any other - frankly - crazy behavior) will not be tolerated at all...he will be let go and no one will take him on.
d. Both a lot of long-term anger management and psychiatric evaluation/treatment.
e. Call his mama in to work on it, too.

Of course, all of that means the team, the PA, and the NHL need to develop the cojones to sit down, discuss the issue, develop a policy, and agree on a firm stand that this crap is not acceptable and will not be tolerated (by or of anyone).