The first round of the National Hockey League's Stanley Cup Playoffs has been dominated by a strange fixation with balls, which is unusual because hockey is played with pucks, of course. But we're not talking about the kind of ball you might find on a basketball court. We're talking about the kind of balls found between a male's legs.
This testicular obsession started early in the first round and has grown to an enormous size since. It seems hockey players cannot stop hitting each other in the testicles. Spearing, or "cherry-picking" as it's known on the playground, has become the go-to form of combat for players attempting to distract, or possibly maim, their opponents. Usually spearing would be a last resort action, something that happens when the tension between teams runs so high players are forced to go low. But at some point over course of the last week, the unwritten gentlemanly codes that govern hockey were thrown out of the window and hitting an opponent in the 'nads became the du jour way to get under your opponent's skin.
On Monday night, Colorado Avalanche forward Paul Stastny was given a two-minute penalty for "slashing" Minnesota Wild forward Cody McCormick in front of the Wild net. Statsny drove his stick up into McCormick's private parts, sending the Wild crumpled over in pain on the ice like he'd been shot in the stomach. Whether Statsny will receive supplemental discipline from the NHL remains unclear for now, but if he does, he'll be the third player fined for similar actions this post-season.
The popularity of playoff spearing can possibly be traced back to one of the league's premier pests. On April 19, the NHL fined Boston Bruins forward Milan Lucic, a very good player who also happens to be one of the toughest, dirtiest guys in the NHL, $5,000 for spearing Red Wings defenseman Danny DeKeyser during game one of their playoff series, which the Wings eventually lost. But for some reason spearing caught on across the league. On April 26, the NHL fined Dallas Stars forward Ryan Garbutt (heh) $1,474.36 for this on Anaheim Ducks forward Corey Perry during game five of their series: