Peter Laviolette has helped to usher in a new era of the Philadelphia Flyers. The Broad Street Bullies have largely been replaced with a team that can be physically intimidating, but at the same time extremely talented and dominating offensively.
Rookie Zac Rinaldo is proving to be the Flyers very own Brad Marchand or Sean Avery, someone who isn’t afraid to ruffle feathers and goon it up when he feels the game needs it.
Rinaldo is sitting at third in the league in penalty minutes, with 130. He has fluctuated between the first and third slot all season. The Penguins learned how seedy Rinaldo’s game could be back in December, when he took out Robert Bortuzzo with a nasty head shot. No penalty was called on the ice and even though Bortuzzo suffered a concussion on the play, the play was not reviewed by the Department of Player Safety either.
Rinaldo is not considered a repeat offender, so when he committed two infractions in yesterday’s game against the Devils, Brendan Shanahan handed down two fines for these incidents. One, was this:
Rinaldo slew footed Devils’s star and Captain, Zach Parise after the whistle was blown in the third period, when the Flyers were down 6-2. Rinaldo says of the incident:
“The slew-foot really shouldn’t be in the game but 6-nothing we were down and someone had to stir the pot.”
In addition to the slew-foot on Parise, Rinaldo is being punished with a fine for a late hit on Jacob Josefson in the second period. He was fined$2,500 for each incident, for $5,000 in fines total. Rinaldo doesn’t believe what he did was a punishable offense but respect Shanahan’s decision. (Read here)
Stirring the pot by taking out a guy’s feet with a move that could end a season is a dangerous line to walk. Not much could be said for the officiating in this game as well, when you consider that he was not punished on the ice for this offense, just the same as PK Subban who was fined after the game for slew-footing Chris Kunitz and served no penalty on the play.
I understand that Shanahan isn’t in the business of suspending people for a first offense, but a double fine and given Rinaldo’s track record for penalties and sometimes dirty play, I’d say this was an opportunity to make an example of this style of play and apply a suspension, even just for a game or two.
Players cannot continue to justify how they play with “this is just my style of play” when their style of play can seriously injure the players around them (see Alexander Ovechkin).
Now, before the High Heels and Hockey readers who are primarily fans of teams other than the Penguins bring up Matt Cooke, let me be clear that I have never defended Matt Cooke’s actions on the ice. But I will commend him for recognizing that towing the line between physical prowess and dirty play was no longer an acceptable way to play the game and he has made significant strides in correcting his level of self-discipline on the ice.
The incident with Parise was unjustified. Stirring the pot is one thing, but slew-footing a man after the whistle has been blown when he is defenseless and not engaged is dirty and should be punished. Kudos to Shanahan for at least doing something and hopefully Rinaldo, being such a young player, will straighten himself up and be more of an asset to the Flyers instead of being that guy in the penalty box.