I love hockey. But the events of this past season are seriously testing my loyalty to this sport. Put it this way: there is a reason why I have grown to love baseball more in recent years.
I’ve been watching NHL hockey since Gretzky wore an Oilers jersey. Ugly, filthy hits have existed for years. But is it just me, or are they increasing?
I honestly don’t believe for a minute that Boston defenseman Zdeno Chara meant to injure Habs’ forward Max Pacioretty. I don’t believe he was out to deliver an ugly hit. But still, it happened. And it was sickening. And he deserved to be sanctioned. But as we all know, he wasn’t.
So when I read the news that NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman announced his “five-point plan to reduce concussions”, I couldn’t help but cry bullshit.
Reconsidering seamless glass? It’s a start. Holding a club and coach accountable for repeat offenders? Well, the Board will be “approached” on this: they still have to be in favour of it for this to happen. A revision of the protocol relative to concussions: you mean this wasn’t happening already?!
A “blue ribbon” committee examining “topics relevant to the issue”? Let’s see: we have two current NHL GM’s, an NHL VP, and…is Rob Blake representing the NHLPA on this one? What are the topics? Can we guarantee this will be free of any Bettman-based bias? How about including someone who was seriously affected by the “opening up of the game” in recent years? It’s not like Marc Savard is playing any hockey right now.
The NHL already dropped the proverbial puck on this one when they failed to suspend Chara. This gesture smacks of a league trying to save face.
You can issue all the suspensions in the world, replace all the seamless glass with Plexiglas and get Shanny to examine the issue of equipment (the HELL?!) But until players learn to treat each other with respect on the ice, as long as the NHL talent pool is diluted to include assclowns and until we consider a true shift in hockey culture, this shit is going to continue to happen. Don’t get me wrong: I love the physical part of the game, and I dig a good Dion hipcheck. But can we make an effort to not kill each other out there? Because I’m afraid one day, that’s going to happen.
I don’t include Chara in the “assclown” category. But this isn’t about him anyway. It’s about guys like Max Pacioretty who don’t deserve to be injured this seriously on the job. Nobody does.
So what do you think? Am I being too hard on the NHL? Is this whole issue really just about the way NHL rinks are designed today? Tell us what you think in the comments and vote in our poll.