The Minnesota Wild have been at the center of the hockey universe for a few days now, but not for anything good. They have not been making headlines all across the national landscape due to solid play or one of their star players pulling off some magic. No, it's because of Ryan Hartman making a dirty play against the Winnipeg Jets' Cole Perfetti.
What seemed like a slip of a stick off of the faceoff dot was later revealed as Hartman taking some sort of revenge after Jets defenseman Brendan Dillon took star Kirill Kaprizov out of the game with a couple of heavy-handed cross-checks.
"He said it in kind of a respectful way," Perfetti told reporters after the game. "'No disrespect, nothing against you. It had to happen for what happened to Kaprizov there.'"
The discourse has been uncontrollable after Perfetti's comments. Hoards of online debate has been spawned from this act of attempted revenge for hurting a star player. And now, it has seeped onto the national Sportsnet broadcast during the intermission of Wednesday night's slate of games.
Former NHLer Jamal Mayers remained adamant in defense of what Hartman did. As a former depth forward himself who liked to play on a little edge, it makes a little bit of sense.
"I know the game has changed, but there is still an element of fear -- an element of being aggressive and sending a message," Mayers said on the broadcast. "These two teams could also meet in the playoffs. To me, sending a message is important."
Mayes went on to say that Dillon's second cross-check to hit Kaprizov right in a vulnerable area, was just as egregious as Hartman's high stick. Adding in also that the only reason it's a discussion now is because it has been revealed that Hartman did it on purpose.
Analyst Sam Cosentino then chimed in and essentially said that it just shouldn't have been Perfetti who got high-sticked, but one of the more established Jets stars instead. As if a different target would have really mattered. Agree or disagree with what Hartman did, the fact that it was Perfetti instead of someone like Mark Scheifele, is a non-factor in the debate.
After the more traditional-minded broadcasters had their chance to speak on it, the former hockey player who has the most accolades and experience as a top player, three-time Olympic gold medalist, and five-time World Championship gold medalist Jennifer Botterill, got her words in.
Botterill was plainly baffled at what Mayers and Cosentino were saying; defending Hartman's decision to get this supposed "revenge." She mentioned that it is not what you want to see if you are a league trying to get the most skilled and entertaining players on the ice, feeling comfortable. And that no player should really expect to get two-handed high-sticked in the face on a moment's notice.
The three of them proceeded to go back and forth in possibly the most heated hockey broadcast in a while. No polite jokes or passive-aggressiveness, this feels like something right out of what we're used to from a Stephen A. Smith-led daytime show.
It's worth it to just watch the full and fiery four minutes and 25 seconds.
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