I love the e-mails I get from fans each week - good and bad.
One of the by-products of writing a blog is the back and forth available with the readers. I encourage it and there's lots to learn for me reading the responses I get.
This week, I received several emails regarding my statements during the Montreal-San Jose game in which Maxim Lapierre shoved Scott Nichol into the end boards. Some people felt I went too far in condemning the Lapierre play, while others believe I have a bias against the Canadiens. Others felt I chose only to look at this play and totally ignored a confrontation between Rob Blake and Tomas Plekanec.
Of these, the one I would want a "redo" on is the Blake-Plekanec incident. Blake clearly should have been penalized further and I missed it. Sorry for that.
One reader wrote, "To be honest, this is not the first time that I have heard you deliberately trash the Canadiens. Last year, before the Habs faced off against the Bruins I heard you say on Vancouver radio that the Canadiens can play 10 seven-game series against the Bruins and that the Habs won't win a single game! This is obviously you speaking with your heart and feelings."
Okay, refresh my memory - did they win a game in that series?
It is not a bias, it's just my opinion. Another user wrote that Nichol "dove" into the boards to draw a penalty and that the push wasn't that hard. Take it from someone who was there; that's not what happened. Sometimes, the speed of plays don't translate to TV. This was one of them.
Nichol was off balance, five feet from the boards and didn't have a chance to do anything to protect himself after Lapierre pushed him. Perhaps the fact that I broke my leg and dislocated my ankle on a similar play in 1993, costing me three months of the season is a reason for my emotion.
It was also written that I was not as upset about Matt Cooke's hit as Lapierre's push. That is simply not the case.
Both plays were extremely dangerous, involved unsuspecting players and resulted in potential long-term injuries. While the plays were different, they fall in the same category for me.
Both players should have been suspended. I am consistent in my view of what is a suspendable play and have been an advocate for stiffer suspensions for some time. Cooke should have been suspended, in my opinion, for at least five games, which is of course would have been one game longer than Lapierre got. I have long been critical of Matt Cooke and the way he hits. I feel he hits to hurt, shows little respect to a vulnerable player and have called him out for not answering the bell after he crosses the line into a dangerous area.
Again, thanks for the letters. I can't possibly respond to them all, but I am always aware of the passion the game unearths in fans. Hopefully, with the rule changes coming (changes I want now - not next season), we will see less and less of these plays.
Got a question for Ray? Send him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org!