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Slew Footing: Hockey's Version of Pearl Harbor

December 7, 2021, 9:41 AM ET [6 Comments]
Paul Stewart
Blogger •Former NHL Referee • RSSArchiveCONTACT
Today is Pearl Harbor Day: "A date which will live in infamy". Over the years, Pearl Harbor has even been used as a verb as well as a proper noun. To "Pearl Harbor" someone is to use sneaky or underhanded tactics to attack an unsuspecting target.

In hockey, slew footing -- kicking out an opponent's skates or sweeping the leg in Cobra Kai fashion-- is one of the sneakest, most dangerous and most vile tactics imaginable. Well, it seems slew footing is back in vogue. There have been a pair of recent slew-footing incidents in the NHL.

What were they thinking? Seriously.

Likely not thinking at all.

Let's look at the culprits. One is aging defense man who is slowing down rapidly. He is now leading the parade for slew foot action. He is the "Big Foot" of slew footers. The second, the most flagrant face licker in the History of The NHL has to be a pepperpot to stay effective.

However, to be effective, physically, he can't go shoulder to shoulder with his opponents so he sticks his leg behind an opponent's and gains the edge that otherwise he can't earn physically or honestly.

It's about time that the NHL and the Department of Players Safety runs a clinic on what NOT to do on the ice or face the consequences.

My Dad used to say, "A leopard never changes its spots." Don't expect these two guys to change no matter what you fine them or take games for them to sit out.

Can we expect that Brad Marchand and PK Subban will eliminate these "dastardly" tactics from their player's toolbox? Methinks not.

Marchand gets all the praise for being a small player who brings piss and vinegar to the Cashbox on Causeway. The TD Garden is now just a restaurant that occasionally has a Hockey Game. The floor show is Marchand who appeals to the fans born in the yesteryear of The Big Bad Bruins. Trust me, this guy is the antithesis of what wearing the spoked B used to represent.

Marchand scores goals. He kills penalties. He backs defenders off with his speed. He also does what The Boston management pays him to do and that is to stir up the pot. The Bruins are plagued with small D so Marchand gives The B's the distraction that this team needs as they search for a second line that can score goals to supplement the line of Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak.

Marchand is a talented hockey player. He can also be a pain in the neck without resorting to underhanded and sometimes downright gross tactics. He too often chooses the low road, and that's a shame. But he's set in his ways.

Moving onto New Jersey, Every slew foot that Subban makes all look the same. Only PK's uniforms and the opponents he slew foots are different: Lucic, Zegras, Spezza, Pionk, Toews are just a few of the ever growing population that have had their feet taken out from behind courtesy of PK. Rather than Pernell-Karl, the initials should stand for Penalty Kill.

So, VP of Hockey Ops, Manager of Player Safety, VP and President of the League, last but not least, GM's Fitzgerald and Sweeney, you've got two problem children: two recidivist, unrepentant "masters" of the hockey version of Pearl Harboring.

What are you going to do about them? The dinosaur in me has a solution but then again, I'm old school.

If I was on a team that either of these guys slew footed one of my teammates, to Hell with The Instigator Rule, I'd kick some ass. Actually, I'd punch them in the nose because I played nose to nose. I never took a guy from behind. Then again, I'm a cave man. More Bam-Bam than Yamamoto.

For those who believe in the values of tradition, respect and honorable toughness in hockey: Remember Pearl Harbor! These proceedings are closed.


A 2018 inductee into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame, Paul Stewart holds the distinction of being the first U.S.-born citizen to make it to the NHL as both a player and referee. On March 15, 2003, he became the first American-born referee to officiate in 1,000 NHL games.

Visit Paul's official websites, YaWannaGo.com and Officiating by Stewart
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