A real hockey guy, I wouldn't expect anything less!!! Couldn't agree with you more!
Having played Junior hockey in Canada (in North Bay), I can say without doubt, that the more they try to "clean up" hockey, the dirtier the game gets.
It use to be that if you had a problem with a guy on the ice, you dropped the gloves, settled it like men and got on with the game (after 5 minute off setting penalties). However, since the NHL has seen the demise of the goon, he has been replaced with the much worse "pest".
The goon dropped his gloves (almost always against the other teams goon) for two reasons; 1) to get his team going or 2) as retaliation for going after a "skill" player.
However, the pest has no such M.O. The pest goes after your knees, the pest hits you with a butt end, the pest gives you a face wash with his glove. The pest goes after your star player (read Marcus Naslund), while he has his head down and nearly kills him, only to have one of your tougher players (Bertuzzi), in a moment of utter stupidity, go after said pest (Steve Moore), with a cheap shot of his own.
Bottom line is that Wayne Gretzky always had either Dave Semenko or McSorley over his shoulder to ensure he could be Wayne Gretzky. Mario never had the same type of protection or Mario's numbers would've been even better than they were.
I say, let'm fight! The league should be calling major penalties and suspesions for illegal stick work (butt ends, spearing & high sticks) as well as cheap shots.