I try really hard not to be a complete homer at times. This is easy to do on the internet, because you never know when a Bruins or Leafs might come by and tell you how wrong you are. Even so, there are plenty of time I’ll defend a player to the death for their actions, if only because of the sweater they wear.
This is not one of those times.
Listen, you all know I love me some Pat Kaleta, but what happened with Paul Mara makes a whole lot of sense in hindsight. Kaleta has gained a bit of a reputation over his brief stay in the NHL, and last night he lived up to the downside of that reputation. Check out what last night’s AP summary had to say.
“It’s two hits on me that he has jumped,” Mara said. “I just made a decision that enough is enough from that little guy. If he was a man, he would’ve dropped the gloves and stood in there. I did what I had to do.”
Actually, I agree with what Mara is saying. Kaleta needs to stop turtling or his antics aren’t going to work anymore, and even if he fights back Mara will get two for the instigator. He shouldn’t have other people cleaning up his messes, and he shouldn’t be lying in a heap while a defenseman whomps on him. He just proved a game ago that he can fight, why not defend his own actions?
I wouldn’t be so ready to defend Mara if not for this next bit:
“I’ll always remember that hit. And when he was in the scrum he made a pretty classless move, asking me how my face was. You don’t want to hurt guys in this league, and to have him say something like that, it’s classless.”
Again, I absolutely agree, especially if Kaleta really did say that. That’s not in the code. That’s not how hockey is played. Even if both hits were completely legal you don’t revel in another player’s injury. Asking about Mara’s face isn’t some clever rap lyric, and it’s not “have another doughnut.” It’s classless, plain and simple, and I don’t like seeing that from a kid I like so much.
For the record, this is the hit from last night:
One skate off the ground for sure. Dirty? Probably not.
But here’s where Mara’s beef starts:
Yeah, I can see where he is coming from. It’s not outright illegal but it’s borderline enough that I can understand where Mara could get upset. We all know the result, and no matter how good a hit the resulting injury isn’t something to brag about. Kaleta’s defense was this:
“I caught him pretty good last year, but it’s part of the game,” Kaleta said. “I go in and finish the check. That’s my job and that’s what I have to do. Whether he didn’t like it, or it was from last year, I’m not too sure.”
It’s tough to criticize that logic, but if Kaleta is going to take that “job” he has to stand up for himself, even if that means taking on a guy bigger than him, and even if he doesn’t want to. We previously thought that he took big strides last year by getting into a real fight, and this year with “the Witt Slam”. As of today, I think all that progress has gone away. I like the kid, I really do, but you have to respect the game and “The Code”, even if you are a “new breed” of enforcer.
If you can’t stand up for your actions, you aren’t enforcing anything.