Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Villiany Making a Comeback

"What would the world be like without Captain Hook?" - Dustin Hoffman as Captain Hook in 1991's Hook.

Steve Downie may not have a hook for a hand, but he sure through a hook at a restrained Jason Blake over the weekend, which resulted in a fuss throughout the media. Of course, if you have forgotten, Downie was the one who managed to catch Dean McAmmond coming around the net in the preseason (see YouTube video attached) and his reputation has already grown big enough for everyone to recall as a household name.

It seems pretty safe to say, I think we have a villian on our hands and in our league. Of course, I could be understating this by not saying that we have a team of villians on our hands, in regards to the number of suspensions handed down to the Philadelphia Flyers. Or, I could recycle the cliche of late that we have a modern day version of the Broad Street Bullies on our hands. No matter which way you decide to slice it, villiany is a foot... and I love it!

Personally, I've gotten tired of disliking/hating players or teams for being too good. Disliking a team or someone out of pure respect for their talent has become a cliche itself. Not since Claude Lemieux roamed free with his knee-on-knee hits and his turtling in fights has there been anyone so despised as Steve Downie is working himself into. I, personally, loved to hate Claude Lemieux, even though his antics never really played havoc upon my favourite team, the Canucks.

It is an arguable point that the Rangers' Sean Avery could be considered a villian, but I would have him labelled more as the Riddler, where Downie may be considered the Joker. Avery says more to get under the skin of his opponents, to the point where they're either scratching their heads wondering if he said what he said or gets them fired up to draw a penalty. Downie has so far been the crazy bad ass taking the league by storm and he's certainly not afraid of the law of the league.

Downie isn't new to all this fuss, either. Downie's junior career is laced with controversy. Downie has had his fair share of suspensions and penalty minutes growing up in the OHL in Windsor, Peterborough and Kitchener. He was certainly a villian in the making. Just ask Jack Johnson, now of the Los Angeles Kings. Downie took a wicked elbow from the American defenseman in the Gold Medal Game of the 2005 World Junior Championships. Needless to say, Downie sure got under the skin of the Americans with his crash & bang play.

And now on TSN's Off the Record, today's episode will have Flyers GM, Bobby Clarke, on the show and he'll mention how he approves of what Downie had done to Blake, more or less for Downie's redemption towards what Blake said after the McAmmond incident. Who's to actually say that had anything to do with the punch? Clarke seems to, but that's coming from the mastermind of the new Broad Street Bullies.

Now, I don't necessarily agree with the actions taken by the young first round draft pick of the Flyers (that's right, he's a first rounder), but I sure do enjoy the idea of tuning into a Philadelphia Flyers game and wondering if he is going to tune his fist or body into an opponent. And then when it becomes the battle of Pennsylvania, the good versus the bad... the poster boy versus the tiny terror... it seems to me that it could be an exciting 60 minutes, for those paying attention.

I don't know about you, but I like the idea of a villian in our midst. How can you measure up the good guys when there are no bad guys in the world (or the game, for that matter)?

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