They revel in hits like this:
But turn around and revile hits like this:
Personally, I don't think either type of hit is so inherently beautiful or useful in hockey that it could not be sacrificed for the sake of less serious injuries. I could step into my Habs-fan bias, as some Flyers fans are capapble of doing when they watch Mike Richards, and admire Kovalev, but I don't find his play as a bruising defenceman a very becoming part of his game.
That's why I tend to agree with Simon Gagne on the first count: that Kovalev should have been penalized (and probably even suspended) for the hit he laid on Simon on Saturday night – regardless of his name, suspension history or anything else.
Apparently it was reviewed and deemed OK by the league, and Flyers GM (notably):
"I think he said it was a little bit late, but it was one of those things," Holmgren said. "And because of the player - it's Kovalev, he's not that kind of player - and in this case, he doesn't have time to react one way or the other.
"It was not an elbow," Holmgren said. "I have a lot of trouble calling that a head shot."
I do take issue with the Flyers (and their faithful) crying to the principal again, just like last spring (from Tim Panaccio):
"I suggested to Gagne that if a Flyer had hit Saku Koivu with a head shot ... it would "THE" story in Oh Canada and splashed all over TSN, HNIC, etc. until justice was served.
To which Gagne replied, that had a Flyer done it, he'd be looking at "a 10-game suspension."
Their ridiculous "poor us" complex makes me laugh. Mike Richards alone has enough dirty hits to fill a hard full of video. Besides, they are much more disciplined this season than last, they haven't been getting more suspensions than anyone else.
That victim nonsense cost us some early calls last spring, and I hope the NHL doesn't bite the same bait from the poor poor Flyers again now, even if they have fans with the best invented rumours around.
So, are the Habs then a dirty team?
I think they've shown they're capable of underhandedness and plays most would not be proud of (Sergei on Grabovski, for instance). I think they're dirtier than the most doting of fans would admit. They are no angels, my friends.
But the team is a lot less dirty than most teams (Phoenix) and probably less dirty than Philly – even with their revamp.