Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Two sides to every coin


Raffi Torres zero, Bobby Ryan two games, Jarret Stoll, Chris Kunitz and Steve Downie one game each.

That's the recent list of players who appeared to commit violations that required the NHL clown unit disciplinary committee to make its presence known during the Stanley Cup playoffs. By many accounts, Torres' hit on Brent Seabrook - who will miss tonight's Game 4 as a result - was technically legal. By many other accounts, even some of the same, Torres should've been suspended anyway.

The other penalties I personally can live with, though Downie's douchery in the past should've cost him more. At the same time, I'm kind of thankful Kunitz received only one game. I don't recall if Kunitz was ever suspended as a Duck but he's had no run-ins with the NHL's clowns higher-ups as a Penguin. His hit was Matt Cooke-esque and while Kunitz is a fierce, big hitter, he never crosses the line. I can only think that since he's been filling Cooke's role as linemate of Jordan Staal and Tyler Kennedy that the aura of Cooke possessed Kunitz.

Anyway. The league might or might not have gotten it right on each of these decisions. But isn't it about time to point the finger elsewhere?

I'm talking about Donald Fehr, the NHL players association, and, well, the players.

The NHLPA is not blameless here. The players themselves need to start taking the issue of player safety to heart. Start teaching respect for your fellow man.

If you see a player's numbers, don't hit him. If you see him involved, with his head down, with another player in a battle for the puck, don't try to kill him.

If you see a player coming at you, don't turn your back to him so you get creamed into the boards. Don't duck your head in high-traffic areas because you think that little action will help you get to a puck 15 feet away.

The league doesn't seem to be getting very much right when it comes to discipline but the players seem content with the actions of their peers. There remains confusion on certain issues - namely the Torres hit on Seabrook, which, if it didn't receive further discipline, it shouldn't have even been a penalty, should it? He either violated Rule 48 or he didn't. And if he did, he did it for the second time in a few weeks.

There isn't confusion on throwing elbows at opponents' heads. Don't do it. There shouldn't be confusion on launching yourself at an opponent's head with an elbow raised. Don't do it. Even the NFL is frowning on that kind of hit, and they want to make their players go through a longer, more grueling season.

We can't blame just the NHL any more for failing to mete out appropriate discipline. We need to start blaming the players too for not caring about the well-being of others. The PA needs to start cleaning up the game just as much as the league.

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. You don't want to be concussed, so stop trying to concuss everyone else.

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