The Caps pounded the snot out of the Avalanche last night, but it wasn't that pounding that drew the most interest. It was the latest in a string of cheap shots and late hits that found Mike Green being driven headfirst into the boards by a giant goon of a player, David Koci.
The ogre on skates lined up Green behind the net and, for no apparent reason, rammed him in the back, driving him into the boards. It drew, deservedly, a major for boarding and a game misconduct.
Gabby, as you'd expect, wasn't happy, giving reporters some terrific quotes:
"Please, the guy has one goal in six years. He couldn't play in the American League. I've faced David Koci a lot. He might be a nice guy -- I have no idea. I'm glad he's making a living. Let's be honest if this was any [other] game he gets on the ice in the first three minutes, gets into his fight and then he sits at the end of the bench, so what good is he?
"I mean, [for] 15 feet he saw Green's No. 52 and it didn't stop him one iota from hitting him in the back and going for his head. I hope they throw the book at him. It was a bush-league hit."
There are all sorts of good points wrapped up in Gabby's comments.
What's the role of a goon like that? Fighting is one thing. But this kind of crap? At least when Ovie commits his sins, it's within the context of the larger game. This guy's just a goon on skates, wandering around with the sole purpose of hurting other players.
When the ratio of your penalty minutes to your points is over 100, you don't belong in the league.
It does raise the question as to whether the Caps need an enforcer. Do they need someone like Donald Brashear to serve as a deterrent? On one hand, you'd think they would. But on the other hand, is the fear of getting into a fight -- perhaps Koci's one hockey skill -- going to prevent him from doing his dirty business? Probably not.
So kudos to John Erskine for rising to the challenge and taking on the oversized crapbag skating goon. The Caps might not need their own thug, but when others step out of line, the team needs to be ready to respond to defend themselves, beyond just pounding them with rubber on the ensuing power play.
The rest of that's up to the league. They need to take a severe stand on these kinds of plays, and Koci's the perfect unskilled warm body that would serve as the perfect model for the league's zero tolerance policy. But who are we kidding? The 'Lanche'll sure miss his 3 minutes of ice time a game once the NHL's Wheel of Justice spins around to two games.