Ex-NHL Ref Paul Stewart Blasts ‘Passive’ Rangers

It’s always a fiery debate amongst New York Rangers fans and even bloggers/beat writers/social media presences etc.: standing up for teammates when they’re the target of a questionable play. The Alex Burrows/Ryan McDonagh incident has seen its fair share of debate since Tuesday night.

Now you add ex-NHL referee Paul Stewart into the mix. He has a blog on and took his thoughts to electronic words yesterday, chiding the Rangers for not responding to Burrows.

How strongly did the Rangers react to what Burrows did? Like they barely had a pulse. Is that how Rangers coach Alain Vigneault would want them to respond? Apparently so. He appears to be clueless about the ever-declining Code in this game.

So, basically, the Rangers were neither proactive nor reactive here. They were simply passive.

Ahh, ‘The Code’ finds its way into the conversation again. The longstanding, unwritten rules of the NHL. I’m all for defending your teammates, your star players etc. However, in today’s NHL, you have to pick and choose your spots due to the rules in place. It’s not the 1970s anymore when players were actually allowed to practice the philosophy of ‘policing themselves.’

Take into the consideration the players involved. Dan Girardi has been ripped in the past for his lack of intestinal fortitude when it comes to defending teammates. Do you really want the other defensive anchor of the first pairing out for a game because of an instigator penalty? (disregarding the fact Girardi, by his nature, wouldn’t do this). Marty St. Louis and Mats Zuccarello (who did step in to do something) aren’t going to fight. What are we left with here?

There’s some credibility to what Stewart says in the team not sticking up for their teammates as we’ve seen other examples throughout the season (remember Nash’s concussion earlier in the season against San Jose?). Aside from Derek Dorsett and Dan Carcillo, no one else fits the bill of the ever-dying role of enforcer to right the wrongs perpetrated by the opposition against star players. Is the it the byproduct of not having the requisite players or a choice of the bench boss to not employ those types of players?

I can’t fault Alain Vigneault and the Rangers for what transpired Tuesday night. It came within a split second, late in a game they were already winning. What you do worry about is what is the tipping point for the team to at least protect their star players. Henrik Lundqvist going down with an injury?

Teammate protecting is a damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t-situation. And a fine line to walk.

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