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France's Game (04/14/04) --
They just don’t know when to quit. For those of you following the NHL playoffs and more specifically, the Bruins/Canadiens series, you will have noticed quite the interesting development in Sunday’s game. In the third period, with the Bruins controlling the puck in the Montreal zone, Canadiens pansy Mike Ribeiro floundered on the ice like he had just been run over by the Zamboni. The refs, seeing a man who either had either bruised very badly or been hit by crossfire from the stands, had no choice but to blow the play dead.

But then a funny thing happened: After the trainers came out, Ribeiro got up and skated effortlessly to the bench. Not only that, he took the time to point and laugh at the Boston bench, before continuing to clown around with the acquiescing scum on his bench.

In a word, it was shameful. In twelve words, it was a spineless display of Frenchmanship that we should all be appalled by.

The Bruins lost that game, not because of that play, but it certainly didn’t help matters any. Hockey players are the kinds of people that get knocked out cold in the first period and come back to score goals in the third. They are the ones who break their jaw in the first game and deliver a saving check in the second game. They are not the pencil-necks who fake injuries to stop a rush by the other team.

That is, of course, unless we are talking about French hockey players. Two things need to be clarified. One, there is no difference between “French” and “French Canadian.” Being French is repulsive enough, pretending to be French is worthy of painful acupuncture for no medical reason. Secondly, not only is Ribeiro currently playing for a French team, he is a native Frenchman himself (from Montreal.)

As if we didn't have enough reason to label these people cowards, now we have this to look at. Honestly, people sit here and say that hockey is bad for all its violence and for its shameless thuggery. I say that I am completely disappointed that the Bruins didn’t sign Ulf Samuelsson for last night’s game just so that he could knock Ribeiro’s bridges out and jam his Sher-Wood up his ass. Sideways. That’s what hockey needed in this situation. I appreciated the Bruins outcry to the media and Barry Melrose’s certification of the move being an embarrassment to the game, but we could definitely have used some Ulf Justice here.

By now, you’d think that the Canadiens would have learned their lesson. Not only did they embarrass themselves, they did their best to strip hockey of its many gentlemanly qualities. But apparently being in Little Paris made them feel invincible, as Alexei Kovalev tried to pull the same stunt last night.

In the second overtime, Kovalev took a harmless bump from a stick on his well-padded glove. Rather than going after the puck that was two feet in front of him, Kovalev began shaking his hand and trying to make it look like he had been slashed with a chainsaw. Rather than draw a penalty, he instead ran into Sheldon Souray, taking them both out of the play. In the meantime, Glen Murray secured the puck and put it past Jose (not Mexican) Theodore (not a chipmunk) for the game-winner. Apparently there is some justice after all.

If you were trying to pick a team in the east, or probably more accurately find a reason to watch the NHL playoffs, this is one. That series is getting significantly bitterer now that the Frenchwomen are exhibiting their true colors. To me, Montreal’s actions are as big of a black eye to the game outside of the Bertuzzi love tap that I have seen all year. They claim to be the curators of Canada’s game, but even Canada hates Quebec.

Yet again, we see why.

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