Anyone who has watched NHL hockey over the past season-and-a-half did not require a Hockey Night in Canada montage to come to the conclusion that Elias Pettersson is a target of abuse. This has been going on pretty much since Pettersson first stepped onto the ice as a rookie. And as HNIC personality Scott Oake aptly put it: “The attention Elias Pettersson commands as the Canucks’ best player is to be expected…”
This is nothing new. Ask Bobby Hull, who railed against it for years. Ask Peter Stastny, who often had to drive home from games with one hand because the other one was too bruised to grip the steering wheel. Ask Mike Bossy, who likely would have scored 800 goals if the abuse he took had not forced him to retire at the age of 30.
It has been this way time immemorial. If the NHL were running the PGA tour, Tiger Woods would have to be concerned with getting crosschecked in the back every time he lined up a birdie putt. Instead of protecting its most gifted and dedicated players, the NHL in particular and hockey in general is of the opinion that the best players are not only required to lead their teams to victory, but do it while enduring all kinds of skullduggery to which they only are subjected. It’s ass-backwards. Because hockey.
It’s no coincidence that Pettersson is one of the smallest, slightest players in the NHL. Opponents do this to him because they know they can. Do not blame other teams or players for the abuse Pettersson and the best players receive. Blame the NHL. Blame the culture of hockey. Blame the fact that the levers of power in this league are inordinately controlled by former marginal players who made a career out of playing that way.