That was hard to watch. And I’m not showing you even so much as the hit again, so it’s okay, this is just us talking here.

John Tavares was hit by Corey Perry in what looks at first blush like a clean hit, but might look worse the more times you slo-mo replay it. We all know Perry, and we all know he’s a knee artist, and that’s on the NHL and Perry both. Choices, consequences, etc.

And then it all got so hard to watch, to experience, to think about. I didn’t look away fast enough and I saw the trainers, who didn’t yet realize what they had going on, and a player in Tavares trying to get up, and... it’s not supposed to go like that.

Then we got that thing in hockey where the medical staff all run out, both teams’ people urgently running. The symbol of our age is medical staff urgently running. And the perpetrator becomes the gentleman doing his part in a crisis.

Let me tell you the truth, there are few players I hate for how they play so much, I still hate them when they play on Team Canada, but Perry is one, and yet there he is. And the pain we all feel seeing JT hurt, worrying so much, that’s not his fault. But for us, we can reach for the whiskey or the invective or whatever works. I can cry. I’m allowed to cry, and so are you.

He can’t:

He wants to, and so does Dubas, who gets to sprint off. He has something to do, Dubas does, that feels like helping:

It is helping, I suppose. Remember the stories of him sitting with Ilya Mikheyev in the New Jersey hospital? He’ll do that, and he’ll make sure JT’s wife and parents are looped in. He’s got this. He has a task.

But the players who can’t cry, who gathered around JT, too few to block the camera’s intrusive view, they have nothing but a damn hockey game. That’s all they can do. And they need, palpably need, a bad guy to blame. It’s not random chance! It’s not. There is a guilty man, even if we have to convince the man to play along with this part of the drama, there will be atonement. That’s just how people are.

Yes it’s silly and everything that’s wrong with the world in a way. And yes it’s wrong that Perry is assumed to be guilty because of things he’s done in the past, because he’s a Hab, all that crap. It is all of that, and ritual, and human emotion that isn’t useless sobbing.

There is nothing else to do but play that power play the way Auston Matthews did.

John Tavares has been taken to hospital where Kyle Dubas will make sure he’s looked after, and the game goes on.