I look at Scott Stevens and see Russell Crowe.
Crowe is the star of the huge hit film Gladiator, in which he plays a merciless Roman fighter whose life depends on his skill at finishing off his opponents.
When Stevens lined up and absolutely demolished Eric Lindros with a bodycheck in game seven of the Eastern Conference final last week, he became that ancient warrior.
The only difference is that it wasn't Stevens's life imperilled by the hit, but Lindros's. That's what made the incident so disturbing.
Stevens targeted Lindros, knowing he could finish his career. Period.
I know what the popular sentiment is: it was a clean hit. Yeah, maybe, but Stevens's elbow came up awfully quick beside his shoulder.
Yeah, Lindros shouldn't have been playing after a two-month layoff. God knows, he shouldn't have cut across the middle of the ice with his head down.
And, yeah, it's May, the playoffs, and Stevens, like every other player in the rink, would cross-check his grandmother in the teeth if it meant winning the cup.
But if that's the case, if it's just hockey, if Stevens was just doing his job, why does he feel so bad? He feels bad because in his heart he knows he was headhunting.
Stevens has become the poster boy of this year's playoffs. The last five years have seen the playoffs become increasingly vicious, and it's culminated in this year's going-for-the-head hits. It's sickening to see.
I love hockey. I love watching it, I love playing it, and when I'm on the ice I take more than my fair share of hits.
If it's a hard, clean hit I get up and skate away, accepting the fact that another player got the best of me.
But if the player raises his/her stick or forearm and goes for my head, then I might not be getting up at all.
That's not right, and that's not hockey.