Much of the discussion around the Mike Richards / David Booth incident has begun morphing from "Was it dirty?" to "Why did Florida remain passive in the aftermath?". In light of the event, it seems a fair question. The league will do what it sees fit
by burying its head in the sand, no doubt sticking close to the rule book and judging Richards on his history of gentlemanly play. No argument there.
But indeed, where was the expected emotion by the Cats after the hit? When the stretcher was removed, the players reassembled on the ice, awaiting the imminent next dropping of the puck...we got blank stares. Obviously, the Panthers were first and foremost concerned about the fallen camrade, as we all were.
But then? What about that which inevitably follows an incident such as this? Typically, it's a foregone conclusion that most clubs on the losing end of a check of that magnitude are going to "respond", whether right or wrong. This is hockey after all. Call it a barbaric (wink, wink) line of thought with no place in today's game, but the spectre looms overhead, as it has for decades: an eye for an eye, and all that.
We've obviously evolved much of that out of the "modern" version of the NHL, but c'mon: there was nothing from the Florida Panthers once Booth was removed.
Of course, Dominic Moore (busy stuffing his nose with enough tissue to entice day-traders into Kleenex territory), Radek Dvorak (gone after being helped off the ice following the losing side of a knee-on-knee), and Dmitry Kulikov (still seeing blue diamonds after a faceplant into the glass) were all exempted from any retaliatory action. But where was Gregory Campbell? Where was anyone? Not a soul was willing to mix it up with the Flyers in defense of their own honor?
No doubt following the orders handed down by coach Peter DeBoer, the players probably subscribed to a collective thought that the game was not out of hand, still within reach, blah, blah. At 3-1, it wasn't unrealistic, and the Cats were matching the intensity of their hosts.
This wasn't a late-round playoff game, however. Some on-ice anything would have been preferable to sitting back on their paws, awaiting a predetermined fate.
Shoulda mixed it up. In addition to a nasty record of 2-6-1, Florida now faces the ugly labels of "passive", "weak", and "uninspired".
All the best to Booth, of course, but what's left of this club if they won't make the effort of standing up for each other?