Wednesday, March 10, 2010

"Consistency" Only Good If You're Consistently Right

So the NHL prizes "consistency" above all else in its application of supplementary discipline for infractions by its players.

Above, say, being right.

Look, I know it's not Colin Campbell's fault that the rules, as they're written right now, allow for Matt Cooke's hit on Marc Savard, just as they allow for Mike Richard's hit on David Booth. Campbell didn't write the rules.

But his job, it would seem to me, is in part to act as the deterrant to those that would exploit possible loopholes in the rules, as they're currently written. Or take up the banner when the rules do not yet proscribe certain actions (or, more accurately in this case, certain actions that lead to certain results.)

That's one of the ways the word "supplementary" could be interpreted in connection with his job. As a stopgap between the time when the loophole is discovered and first exploited and when the gears of the league (GMs, competition committee, PA, BoG, etc) can run through the necessary parliamentary procedures to formally close said loophole.

The league certainly outlawed the Sean Avery "inbound pass jumping up and down like a clown" play pretty quickly. And that didn't involve any risk of injury to any player.

By essentially washing his hands of any responsibility for helping the players police themselves, Campbell is both condoning what is at least arguably a hit people want taken out of the game (and likely will be, but for the formality of doing so) and making a mockery of himself, his office and the league he serves.

Campbell exists in part to bridge the gap between the rule book as it is and the rule book as it should/will be. When he abrogates that responsibility he fails at his job.

Now, given his desire for consistency, and how he handled the Mike Richards hit on David Booth, then it's understandable why he decided not to suspend Matt Cooke.

True, there is that sticky little matter of Cooke's recidivism in this kind of matter, but I'm giving Campbell the benefit of the doubt right now.

That being said, it still doesn't mean that Campbell's both consistent AND right.

The NHL is not in a position to allow this kind of optics - where the league appears backwards, unprofessional and incapable of policing itself - to continue. Only the NHL could waste the wind at their backs that the just-completed Olympics should have given them with petty arguments and posturing about future participation in the Olympics and now a thoroughly embarrassing public policy stance on supplemental discipline.

The NHL is its own worst enemy in the battle for American acceptance.

Consistency, my butt. The KKK's pretty consistent in the application of its beliefs vis-a-vis "supplemental discipline" for those not of the pure American persuasion too, Colie.


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