The NHL is awfully quick to throw the book at Nazem Kadri. But where the heck are they when some idiot throws an elbow at him?
Or a water bottle? Or something worse?
David Perron, Blues forward by day and tactless goon by night, should be suspended. Now. If not for Game 5 of Avs-Blues on Wednesday night at Ball Arena, when Colorado likely finishes what it started, then for the rest of this series.
“I don’t know if it was just about him,” Perron told reporters after the Avs’ 6-3 win Monday night when asked about Nazem Kadri, who notched three of those Colorado goals. “It was about creating a spark.”
Baloney. It was about knocking a guy into downstate Illinois on national television. It was about giving lowlifes red meat upon which to chew. It was about thuggery for thuggery’s sake, under the guise of revenge.
“Then they were up 3-1,” Perron continued, “and I just didn’t feel like we had enough pushback.”
Suspend him, Gary Bettman. Now.
Don’t you dare give that headhunting, classless toolshed another chance. Don’t let a coward compete for Lord Stanley’s Cup.
Perron didn’t just have two goals Monday. The left winger had a third as well. He wanted to injure Kadri. He wanted to enforce his own brand of fake machismo and bogus hockey justice on an innocent man.
Kadri entered the ice Monday in St. Louis with police officers perched above the Avs’ team entrance. Why? Because diving for a loose puck in the crease during Game 3 caused No. 91 to collide with Blues defenseman Calle Rosen. Because the dive sent the pair of them rolling into St. Louis goalie Jordan Binnington.
Because Binnington limped off the ice and was ruled out for the series. Because No. 91 and Binnington have, to put it mildly, a “history.” Because social media went bonkers, because Blues coach Craig Berube tossed gas onto the fire, Kadri needed a screen from local law enforcement in order to do his job.
“No human being should have to receive that type of treatment,” noted Avs defenseman Erik Johnson, whose laser from the point to tie Monday’s tilt at 1-1. “Especially with a hockey game.”
And yet Perron went out of his way to make an uncomfortable situation even worse.
Five-and-a-half minutes into the second period, with the Avs having stunned the Blues into a 3-1 deficit, Perron sped over to Kadri near center ice and cross-checked the Colorado forward into the boards. Actually, it wasn’t so much a check as a flying rugby tackle.
After Kadri’s first shift, in which St. Louis’ Brayden Schenn made a point to chase the Avs center down some two minutes into the game and got straight into No. 91’s grill, we could’ve seen this one coming.
But here’s the thing: Perron wasn’t done. After Kadri’s second goal of the frame put the visitors up 4-1, the Blues forward skated past St. Louis’ Public Enemy No. 1 while he celebrated.
Blues faithful who went over every stinking angle of Kadri’s accidental barrel-roll into Binnington ought to take a nice, long look at what happened next. And so should the NHL’s Department of Player Safety.
Perron, in plain sight, raised his right elbow and shoulder at Kadri’s face, narrowly missing the defenseless Colorado center’s mug at the right faceoff circle.
“We were just trying,” the Blues forward told reporters, “to create a spark.”
Suspend him. Now.
Since the Gateway City Cranks can’t get enough of hypotheticals, here’s one to chew on: You know what happens if Kadri executes a tackle like Perron’s? You know what happens if the camera catches him throwing an elbow at a sitting duck after they’ve scored?
You know darn well what happens. He’s done for the series. Probably for the postseason.
Perron deserves no less. Game 4 was the work of a cheap, desperate man on a cheap, desperate team reduced to cheap, desperate measures.
Only the Avs didn’t go out of their way to return that malice in kind. Which they could’ve. Easily.
“It’s not about ego,” Johnson explained to reporters. “It’s about winning.”
It’s about class. It’s about Kadri somehow rising above the noise and the spite. It’s about him telling the media this:
“What was said (to me) isn’t a reflection on every fan in St. Louis. I understand that and want to make that clear.”
This after two days — if not more — of off-ice threats from River City yahoos who’d had about five Budweisers too many.
“(They were) racial, threatening,” Kadri said when asked about the sordid details. “All that good stuff.”
The last laugh was his. The fourth point of a historic night came on a feed to teammate Mikko Rantanen for an empty-net tapper with two seconds left, nailing the coffin shut on a 3-1 series lead.
“He elevated his game,” Avs coach Bednar told reporters, “at the best time to show what he’s made of.”
Last spring, the Avs showed that they couldn’t get to the conference finals without him. This spring, he’s showing the carpers in the chorus exactly why.
Sometimes, justice is poetic. All that’s left for the Blues is the handshake line. And if Perron is in any way a part of it Wednesday, Bettman should be ashamed.