Trending Topics is a new column that looks at the week in hockey according to Twitter. If you're only going to comment to say how stupid Twitter is, why not just go have a good cry for the slow, sad death of your dear internet instead?
You need one of two things to make a regular season matchup really great.
The first are playoff implications, and for obvious reasons. Who wasn't glued to Wednesday's wild finish in Dallas, where Teemu Selanne and the Anaheim Ducks plucked two seemingly impossible points from a team with whom they're scrambling madly for a Western Conference playoff spot?
The second is bloodlust.
For all the blustery pronouncements that violence is bad for the sport and everyone's gonna stop watching boo hoo hoo, let's not all act like we won't tune in to see the Penguins and Islanders in their first game since the whole big dustup in a few weeks.
Likewise, you watched last night's Bruins/Canadiens tilt for sure.
And why? Because more often than not, genuine hatred between two clubs makes a sporting event, whether it's on the first day of the season or the last, enthralling appointment television.
(Coming Up: The "What Recchi Thinks" meme and your pearls of BizNasty.)
In Spain, they even have a term for it. It's commonly used to describe enmity between two football teams, their fans and their cities that is itself a near-living thing. There's a wonderful book about it by a journalist named Phil Ball — born in Vancouver, incidentally — called "Morbo."
That, the Spanish say, is the word. It's not just hatred for the sake of generating dollars and headlines, though it does that too. It's the feeling of rage that builds behind the eyes of any fan who sees their rival's logo, and that arises naturally when two combatants that just plain don't like each other clash time and again, never really gaining or losing any ground to the other in an appreciable sense.
But the greatest kind of morbo, the kind that steals away the attention of two entire cities for a whole night, is when the feeling extends beyond the stands and into the dressing rooms.
Teams that don't like each other tend to put on entertaining hockey games, whether the NHL's head of officiating is in the building or not. Not every game has to degenerate into a pastiche of dropped sticks and gloves, and no one has to be carted off on a stretcher. They can just plain not like each other, and that makes the games all the more gripping.
Especially right now, the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens have what you'd call mucho morbo. This was legitimately the third "Most Important Game of the Season" between the two teams. That was helped in no small way by the comments of both Mark Recchi and Milan Lucic the day before that game — clearly designed to take some of the heat off Zdeno Chara — and the hysteria that ensued. Everyone in the hockey world got sucked into it.
Was it right for Recchi to say that? Wasn't he just saying what everyone else thought at the time? Did he get baited into it? That was all discussed ad nauseum until it came time for the game to actually start.
In fact, it got so bad, so quickly, that the Bruins canceled their morning skate ahead of the game and didn't make any players available to the legions of Quebec-based reporters sent down from their home province, slavering for even the slightest quote that could be spun expertly into anti-Montreal or, better yet, pro-hockey violence rhetoric.
Not that the Boston media didn't do its part to build the controversy. After all, it was the media's leading questions that allegedly goaded Recchi and Lucic to the "taking in a movie three days after his concussion" talking point like they were well-coached PR flaks, and its columns that defended Chara's hit as part being nothing out of the ordinary or untoward, wondering too-casually-to-be-casual what all the fuss was even about.
As a result, the city was abuzz all day with Habs/Bruins chatter, most of it angry. People grilled me about it at the office, and they talked about it loudly in the streets.
The way it should be.
And sure, last night's resulting game didn't live up to the antagonism on which the hype built. They don't always do; how could they possibly? Last night's game could have been a beautiful, hard-nosed battle between two teams trying to show the other that they weren't going to deal with each other's crap. Or it could have been dulled by players afraid of incurring the wrath of the league's top disciplinarians ahead of the postseason.
Instead, it was a game the Bruins controlled from the outset and just continually widened with convincing possession and sure special teams.
In any event, we'd still have been hoping that, come the postseason, it would yield at least four more rematches of this wonderful rivalry, that is only rooted deeper with every passing contest.
That's morbo, and hockey, at its very best.
So yes, Recchi stirred up some controversy with what has commonly become known as armchair neurology. Loudly wondering about the severity of another person's concussion on one instance of him going to the movies, and using that as an indicator of just how bad the symptoms could have been, brought his judgment into question for many.
So what else does Recchi think?
@TheRick625: Liz Taylor is a faker.
@Pat_Egan: the Japanese should have put on some swimmies and called it a day.
@jdickie: a buck for a candy bar is ridiculous! When he was a kid, they were only a nickel!
@MissingMalone: there is crying in baseball.
@DontTradeVinny: Clint Malarchuk just cut himself shaving.
@rshappy91: you can wear socks with sandals
@srichardson1980: you should turn down your hip hop music and pull your pants up.
Pearls of Biz-dom
We all know that there isn't a better Twitter account out there than that of Paul Bissonnette. So why not find his best bit of advice on love, life and lappers from the last week?
BizNasty on getting quality minutes:
"Career high in ice time tonight. 19 minutes. #ThanksToWarmUps"
If you've got something for Trending Topics, holla at Lambert on Twitter or via e-mail. He'll even credit you so you get a thousand followers in one day and you'll become the most popular person on the Internet! You can also visit his blog if you're so inclined.
- Mark Recchi