Here is something you can’t understand, how Maxim can just kill a man.

I almost published a post on Sunday night about the Lapierre hit on Jesse Winchester that resulted in Winchester going through the gate and onto the Canucks bench. Ultimately, I decided that it was a complete non-story unworthy of mention and that if I posted it, it would be a cynical attempt to troll for hits. Well, a frustrated Senators team, and Bruce Garrioch took a different view (resulting in the story making Puck Daddy):

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Accused of being one of the NHL’s most hated teams, the Canucks certainly lived up to that billing. Winger Maxim Lapierre slammed Jesse Winchester into an open bench door being controlled by Alex Burrows with no call.

It appeared Burrows opened the door and Ottawa players weren’t pleased.

Winchester said the decision by Burrows was dangerous.

“It’s not a safe play,” said Winchester. “I was under the impression my butt was against the wall, the next thing I know I’m through the bench. I couldn’t see behind me, I’m not paying attention to what’s on the bench.”

The way the Senators and Winchester see the play, Alex Burrows was in control of the bench door, and using "Chaplin-esque" comedic timing, unlocked the door just in time for Maxim Lapierre to slam Winchester onto the Canucks bench. Let’s check out the video evidence:

Via @EyeonHockey

So the "smoking gun" is that Burrows’ left hand was holding the gate when Winchester got hit through it. It has been pointed out that the latches aren’t on the top of the gate (where Burrows’ hands are) and that the Canucks were mid-line change when the puck bounced into the area around their bench. Never mind that Maxim Lapierre skated nearly 80 feet, and held-up on a check intended for Bobby Butler, before making contact with Winchester; some will still contend that Burrows had enough time to gauge the trajectory of Lapierre’s hit before it happened. And that’s how the Canucks set up a dangerous pratfall for Winchester – case closed.

Look, I’m happy to call the Canucks on a dirty play when I see it, but as far as I’m concerned, Burrows would have to be a psychic to anticipate this play sufficiently well to banana-peel Winchester in this manner. If you have to do mental gymnastics to prop up an argument ascribing ill-intent, you’re probably better off picking up Occam’s Mach-8 disposable razor, especially since you’re probably not very sharp.

As for Winchester’s comment that this was a "dangerous play," he’s right, and that shouldn’t be ignored. Perhaps there should be a bench minor for a team that fails to secure the gate on a play like this. If the discussion was "Burrows and the Canucks bench failed to secure their gate, which was reckless" well that would be a reasonable place to start a discussion about this play.

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But that’s not the tenor of this discussion, and it never is when it comes to the Canucks. Which of course ties back into this season’s theme of Embracing the Hate. In this case, a pretty clear cut accident is presented by the media as some intentional, slap-stick designed to potentially injure an opposing player. Well okay then.

"But it was Maxim Lapierre and Alex Burrows! They’re French, they play dirty, they’re competing as synchronized divers for Canada in London in 2012, and one of them moon-lights as a cannibal! " – An idiot.

When the Canucks spoke with Botchford about being "tired" of their "most hated team in the league" status, this is probably what they were getting at. The media, bloggers and occasionally the opposition, habitually superimpose malignant intent onto anything that happens while the Canucks are on the ice. It doesn’t matter how tenuous the evidence is, either. The result is often awkward, and occasionally veers into irrationality.

But you make your own reputation, and the Canucks have, like it or not, earned theirs. They’re not likely to get the benefit of the doubt from their opponents or the league, especially when the last names on the offending sweaters read: "Burrows #14" and "Lapierre #40".

So be it. Embracing the Hate, means letting detractors make fools of themselves on occasion. Anyone who watches this with a critical eye is going to realize how silly it is to make this on-ice accident out to be something malicious and intentional. If they see something else, I can’t help them, because there’s simply no smoke here, and even less fire.

The odd thing is that Andrew Alberts’ hit when he boarded Kaspers Daugavins in the same game was a legitimate bad hit, the type of play I hate to see, and want eliminated from the game. But apparently that hit is an after-thought in comparison with this sequence? That is mind-numbing to me.

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