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Rink Rats: Rangers Heart-Attack Hockey

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"one of the ways to overcome the disparities of skill is by means of aggression. As soon as you have aggression, you have a need to meet it, either in the form of players who won’t be intimidated or players who will defend your skilled players from attack. It was exactly the expansion of the league in the seventies, and the resulting thinner rosters, that allowed the Philadelphia Flyers to put together a team whose intention was to overwhelm opponents by scaring them. The referees and the rules ought to protect the players, but the Flyers discovered that they could dictate what level of belligerence might be tolerated. A referee couldn’t blow the whistle every time a Flyer stepped over the line, because the Flyers would have to play the entire game shorthanded, and that isn’t a supportable circumstance for the fans or the league. Only the most obvious penalties could be called against them, so they began to get away with more and more, until the standard of what was allowable had moved. They introduced the value of being mean and thin-skinned into the fabric of the game—and big, mean, skilled players have been prized ever since."

Does this remind you of the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs?

The league COULD have punished the Flyers for such aggressive play to make an example of them.

Just as the NFL made an example of the Saints for putting bounties on injuring players.

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