Last I night I was in attendance at the Blackhawks and Red Wings preseason game in Chicago when the Smith on Smith crime took place and Benny Smith was knocked cold for a few moments. It was the first time I had ever seen something like that live and in person. The closest comparison I have is when I was at the game against the Capitals when Brian Campbell’s bones exploded into dust after an Alex Ovechkin hit.
As soon as it happened, I was nauseated. I was terrified for Benny’s health and well-being and team allegiances went to the wayside at that moment. It was about one man, injured and unconscious. The cornucopia of emotions I experienced when Smith attempted to get up on his own was instantaneous and gut wrenching. When I saw him begin to move I started to breath a sigh of relief, that is until he laid back down. Then that wave of fear came back over me.
As this is all going on with Smitty, the fear and yearning for vengeance is palpable in the crowd. People seem to be going through different stages as it progresses. Some are still in the fear stage, and some have moved on to the bloodlust stage. For the latter, they’re watching the scrum along the boards were several Hawks & Wings are getting into it. The former still have their eyes glued on Ben Smith, who is finally getting treated by the trainer.
After what felt like an eternity, Smith was helped into a sitting position by the trainer. I’m still horribly nauseated and fearful of his condition and I could see him slumping forward and being unsteady, even in a sitting position. At this point, I can’t help but think about an article I had just read earlier that day from @JoNana (must follow, great blend of hockey & medicine) about the obvious and clear links between concussions and depression. I think about my battles with depression throughout my life and I hope against all known medical knowledge that he doesn’t have to experience that as a result from playing the game he loves.
I keep glancing back at the scrum along the boards, but the angle I was on made it tough to see what exactly was happening, so I turned back to Smith. He eventually is helped up onto his skates and is escorted off the ice, albeit extremely wobbly. Now that Smith is out of sight, my emotions turn to anger.
Anger at Brendan Smith, for what I believe was a reckless and filthy hit that could have been avoided. Anger at the Red Wings, because at this point team allegiances are returning. I could feel the blood rising in me, wanting to see Brent Seabrook pummel whoever it was he was getting in the face of along the boards.
Then the players finally disperse. Penalties are announced. Tempers cool, if only slightly. The anticipation of the next faceoff comes. At this point, with a little over half the third period remaining, I was just hoping that no more injuries or silliness happened. Thankfully, that was the case.
Now, what could be the hardest part, waiting to hear about Ben Smith’s condition begins. We should hear something from the Blackhawks today and Brendan Smith will talk to Brendan Shanahan (who requested an in-person hearing, meaning he could get 5+ games) today or tomorrow.
Regardless of how you feel about the hit, we can all agree that we hope Ben Smith is fine and recovers quickly without any future complications.
Just wanted to share my feelings on this event, please share yours in the comments.