Ference's "Unintentional Bird" Much More Meaningful Than It Seems
Disclaimer: The following is an angry blog. It was written shortly following the Andrew Ference “unintentional bird” and subsequent fine from the NHL. I generally try to keep my writings a tad more professional, but this is an emotional playoff series that tends to bring out the worst in the fans of both teams – and, seemingly, their players. I think it’s fair to say that whichever teams win this series Tuesday or possibly Wednesday night deserves it, no matter what I end up saying here. Both teams have played a good, relatively clean series and anything else is just venting. So consider this blog just that... an airing of grievances. And whether you cheer for the Canadiens or Bruins or anyone else, you’re more than welcome to post your thoughts on this subject and any counter arguments. Enjoy my mental breakdown!
During the course of Thursday night’s 5-4 overtime loss in Game four, Bruins’ defenseman Andrew Ference scored a goal. In the grand scheme of things, it would actually turn out to be a relatively important goal, as it would spur what would be a pretty impressive comeback by the Boston Bruins to take a 5-4 OT victory from the Canadiens on home ice, after trailing three separate times in the game, to tie up their series at two games apiece.
It was also an important goal personally for the 32-year-old Bruins defenseman. Other than an anomalous season with the Calgary Flames in 2005-06 where he tallied 31 points, the stay-at-home defenseman has never put up more than sixteen points, or scored more than four goals in a season. In fact, he went all of 2009-10 without scoring a single goal in 51 games. The Edmonton native has played 10 seasons with the Penguins, Flames and Bruins, and while he’s never been a gamebreaker offensively, he has always managed to be a valuable player. This season was arguably one of his best, as he put up his standard 15 points, with an impressive +22 rating and 74 hits.
Ference has also played about 80 post-season games with these three teams, including a trip to the finals with the Flames in 2004 and one to the Eastern conference finals three years before that with the Penguins. But here’s where things get interesting: up to April 21st, 2011, the guy hadn’t scored a playoff goal in literally a decade.
You’d think that a player who has often been criticized by his teams’ fan bases, has had trouble putting up points and should be lucky to be part of a team like the Bruins, considering his relatively small frame, would just be happy to get any goal, yet alone a highly important one like the one he scored Thursday night. Instead of celebrating his goal and thinking about the next shift and maintaining momentum, he goes ahead and does this:
In case you missed it, here’s a freeze frame of what we’re talking about:
Classy stuff, right?
While, as a Habs fan on the other side of the camera, seeing that middle finger raised staunchly into the Bell Centre air was relatively infuriating, what made the whole situation even worse was what Ference had to say about the incident following the game:
“So it looks awful, I admit it, I completely apologize to how it looks.”
You can almost hear his lack of sincerity while reading that. Ference would follow this up with this gem the next day, after the NHL had fined him the maximum $2,500 for the incident:
"I was pumping my fist. I'm not giving anyone the bird or anything like that. . It was an unintentional bird. I obviously apologize for it. It wasn't meant to insult anybody, especially a whole row of cameras in the Bell Centre and the fans sitting there. That's definitely not the intention. It's not something where I was trying to inflame anybody or do anything rude."
Fuck you, Ference.
Oh, sorry, I just had a keyboard malfunction.
It’s hard to really decide what pisses me off more:
A) The fact that he essentially told hundreds of thousands of fans to fuck off, showing his complete and utter lack of respect for the people who have played a large part in even allowing a fringe defenseman like him to have a job.
B) The fact that he doesn’t even have the balls to own up to his transgression, implying that his fucking glove got stuck. Seriously?
C) That if it was a member of the Canadiens doing the exact same thing, the world would literally melt with criticism and whining about how the Habs are pieces of crap that have no respect.
It should be pretty obvious that flipping off PAYING FANS in their home arena is a no-no.
It’s one thing for James Wisniewski to act out what we’re all thinking when it comes to Sean Avery. While it was an afternoon game with plenty of kids watching and in attendance, and Wisniewski probably deserved a fine or a short suspension, that was a matter between two players on the ice, and it probably wasn’t half as bad as some of the things these players say to each other. Well, Wisniewski got a two game suspension for his “lewd gesture”.
Meanwhile, Andrew Ference pretty openly tells all fans of the Montreal Canadiens that he doesn’t respect them and that he doesn’t like them, and he basically gets off Scott-free. It’s one thing for fans to joust amongst each other on the Internet or even at the arena, but for a player to do that during a televised game towards fans that really weren’t doing anything wrong, just cheering for their team and against the opposition?
To me, this speaks volumes about the Boston Bruins and what their organization stands for. It’s been pretty evident all season that the Bruins have no respect for the Canadiens or the city of Montreal, and it’s downright disgusting.
You don’t have to look much further than the Bruins’ own play-by-play announcer, who just one game before the Ference incident, showed his complete lack of professionalism and, frankly, lack of hockey knowledge when he put on this display on NESN:
It’s one thing to be a home announcer, it’s quite another to be completely bias and basically make fun of players on the air. Enjoy not calling another playoff game after this series Jack.
Go back a little further to the Max Pacioretty incident. We all know what happened. Pacioretty gives Chara a love shove in January. Chara loses his mind and goes after Pacioretty in the Beantown Beatdown, and the next game in Montreal, Pacioretty has to be taken off the ice and out of the arena in a stretcher. Fast forward another two weeks, and Mark Recchi has somehow acquired a PhD and making diagnoses because Pacioretty saw a movie, and, oh ya, he’s only doing it to deflect attention away from Chara.
Keep in mind that in the process of doing this, Recchi basically tried to discredit the Canadiens, an organization he played for, for many years, as well as Dr. David Mulder, one of the most highly respected medical professionals in the sport and a doctor that likely treated Recchi on many occasions.
The Beatdown itself was another show of complete and utter disrespect by the Bruins, who would rather beat down a team that’s admittedly smaller than them than play hockey. A month later, when most of the Canadiens’ players have Pacioretty’s status on their mind, Milan Lucic is trying to take Benoit Pouliot’s head off because he fought David Krejci? Not to mention how the Bruins ran up the score in Boston two weeks later. Or how about when Brad Marchand gold swinged his way out of the Air Canada Center a couple of weeks before the end of the season?
It’s incident after incident. It’s a complete lack of class and lack of respect from a team towards another that I can’t explain, and it’s simply disgusting.
Edit: Before anyone brings it up, I’m very aware of Maxc Pacioretty’s twitter comment the other night about Brad Marchand’s “long nose”. To be fair, I found it to be in relatively good taste and in good fun, and completely lacking the malicious nature of Ference’s finger. And regardless of what he meant of it, at least Pacioretty had the comment sense to take it down and apologize, manning up for his “mistake”, while Ference can’t even admit that he did what he did.
B) DAMAGE CONTROL
As mentioned above, after he flipped off the crowd Ference couldn’t even care to own up to what he did, citing equipment malfunctions and, apparently, cinematic illusions.
I might actually be willing to accept his lack of respect for the Canadiens and their fans. After all, we do try to boo them out of our arena every chance he gets. But it’s the fact that the Bruins try to act all tough, but then go ahead and act like scheming little scoundrels in front of the media.
Honestly, what would it change if the little douchebag came out and said “yeah, I flipped off the crowd, and I’d do it again?” Instead, all he cares about is damage control; all he cares about is putting on a good show so that he doesn’t get suspended for the next game. It was the same case with Chara after he took off Pacioretty’s head. Kicked out of the game, facing a hearing with Mike Murphy – since, just like the Bruins, Colin Campbell doesn’t have the balls to deal with the Bruins – Chara comes out and says that he didn’t know where he was on the ice, and that he didn’t know that Pacioretty was even out there. And the same can be said about the Recchi situation.
Even after the Boston Beatdown, Lucic and Marchand and all the rest of these assholes were talking about how the Canadiens are always the ones who start scrums, and that the Bruins are completely innocent.
Please. If these guys sincerely hate the Canadiens, then just come out and say it. It would make a lot of things a lot easier. Instead, you can see the pure hatred and disrespect in their eyes when they bullshit anyone’s who’s anyone.
Remember when PK Subban did this after a game?
The Canadiens were playing on home ice against the Calgary Flames, and completing a comeback from a four goal deficit to win a game 5-4 in OT. It wasn’t the best game the Habs had played during the season, but it was definitely a huge comeback. Subban scored in OT, something that’s sort of become his mantra, and he celebrated by doing a little bow-and-arrow deal.
While no one from the Flames seemed bothered, apparently, plenty of fans as well as teammates and the coaching staff thought this was the end of the world. I don’t really want to get to far into the sheer ridiculousness that followed, which included a discussion of PK Subban’s disrespect, a near-apology from Subban thanks to the coach, and even, for some reason, a discussion about whether Scott Gomez is a racist, if you can believe that, but you can read all about it in this great blog by TCL friend Kamal Panesar at Habs Addict.
Just for a second, think about what would have happened if PK Subban had flipped the bird in TD Garden in games one, two or five, following a goal. The Bruins would likely have to forfeit after fans tried to jump the fence to get to Subban, and Don Cherry would likely have a seizure live on coach’s corner.
Or you can look back to this particular incident between the Bruins and the Chicago Blackhawks:
Bleeding after being cut by a skate, all Shawn Thornton can think about is going over to the Blackhawks bench because they were taunting him? He even went as far as to push a referee, and promise vengeance whenever the Bruins and Hawks play each other next season.
Someone taunts a Bruin, and it’s like it’s the end of the world. PK Subban or Carey Price celebrate a win, and the entire hockey universe gets offended. But when the Bruins do something completely and utterly disrespectful, it’s no big deal, bro! Just a hockey play. And it’s ok because the Canadiens are assholes.
I’ve had just about enough of all this shit. All that the team that I cheer for has done this season is prove people wrong. When Markov and Gorges went down, they proved everyone wrong. They lost an ungodly amount of games in December, they bounced back and proved everyone wrong. When people said they couldn’t be as good as they were last season, they ended up with a better record than in 2009-10 and proved everyone wrong. And when everyone thought they were goners against the Bruins, they won the first two games of the series in Boston and proved everyone wrong.
Instead of focusing on these things, we have to talk about how a Bruin took off Pacioretty’s head, and we’re forced to defend our own team and our own fans for the incident. We have to fend off the hateful comments of the Recchis and the Marchands, because they don’t like our team.
People have been talking about disrespect all season, as the source for headshots and the source for all these concussion and injury situations in the league. You don’t have to look much farther than the Boston Bruins to see what disrespect and lack of class encompasses. Everything that’s wrong with the NHL can be summed up by that organization, and it’s true from the very top of their team, from the owner and the general manager, all the way down to their rookies and fringe defensemen.
You can say what you want, but when I see someone flipping off an arena, when I see a major headhunting incident going unpunished and players downright insulting an entire fanbase every chance they get, I see a problem. And it’s a damn shame that the Canadiens have way too much respect and way too much class to do anything about it. While the Bruins care more about pissing off Habs fans, the Canadiens are busy trying to win games.
All of this should be a clear indication that something has got to change in the NHL. It’s clearly not just the Bruins against the Habs, and if we took a further look into issues of disrespect in the league this year, it wouldn’t be just the Bruins committing these acts. But to see a team have such evident hatred against a rival isn’t a healthy situation for the NHL, and Gary Bettman and Colin Campbell can count their lucky stars that the Habs have decided to turn the other cheek against Chara and the Bruins.
Because if Chara did that to a player on pretty much any other team and went unpunished, say, the Penguins or the Islanders, or the Leafs, we wouldn’t be talking about a flipped bird right now, but likely another player leaving the arena on a stretcher. And everyone needs to take a moment and think about that.
Tuesday night at the Bell Centre, the Habs face elimination in Game 6. If they happen to lose, or if they push it to seven and win, I hope every player on this team lines up and shakes the Bruins’ hand. At the very least, let’s hope we can see one, preferably two great games of hockey without incident, like the one we saw Saturday night. These teams are clearly capable of it, and rivalry or no rivalry, there are some things that are just unnecessary. And as a Habs fan who gets the brunt end of the stick more often than not, I’m pretty sick of it.