So it’s pretty safe to say that most people who know me, know that I think of Gary Bettman and Colin Campbell, and basically all NHL officials as highly as I do of as the rats crawling around the NYC subway tracks. The mockery that they’ve made of the league, especially these past few years since the lockout, is unforgiveable. The shoot out, giving teams points for simply tying (losing), the blatant bias towards certain teams and players, (:: cough:: Sidney Crosby), and most of all, the complete mess of the disciplinary system…if you can even call it that. I can deal with shootouts, unnecessary points…..I can even almost deal with Sidney Crosby’s smug little face being favored left and right, but I can NOT stand players getting away scot-free for cheap, dirty, dangerous, life-threatening hits. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying I want to diminish the physicality of the game. The toughness of the sport is one of the reasons why I love hockey so much, but what has gone on this season is out of control.
There is no one to place the ultimate blame on for this behavior other than the league. The culture of an organization, team, league, whatever noun you want to insert there always starts at the top and it’s unfortunate that the best hockey league in the world’s top executives are more concerned with sniffing around for “cheese” rather than the well-being of their most important assets….their players. The absurd overall treatment of Sean Avery by the league, the mere two-game suspension of Alex Ovechkin (and I love Ovie), and the most ridiculous of all…..the recent non-suspension of Matt Cooke, are all glaring examples of the circus that is Colin Campbell’s office.
Sean Avery is no angel. He talks trash…sometimes about his ex-girlfriends on camera, he waves sticks in front of goalies' faces, he refuses to fight certain players to further infuriate them, and has generally behaved pretty unorthodoxly during most of his career to say the least, but can you ever say that Sean Avery put someone’s life at risk? No. You can’t. The punishment that Sean Avery receives for merely breathing on planet Earth is the league’s hypocrisy at its most nauseating. The guy gets suspended and subsequently thrown off a team for “embarrassing” the league by trash talking an ex-girlfriend, but Matt Cooke can put Marc Savard in the hospital with a stage II concussion, end his season with an intentional head hit, and skate away scot-free with not even so much as a penalty called???? Infuriating. The NHL really reached new lows with this one.
Cooke hit on Savard:
Any head hit should be illegal. Period. When you hit someone in the head, intentionally or not, someone will always get injured and nothing about the NHL or the game itself is worth severely damaging someone’s life over. Players this season have had complete disrespect for each other on the ice and the league’s inept attempt at discipline only encourages them to do it more frequently because they know there is a good chance that they’ll get away with it. What Bettman and Campbell are looking at during some of these plays is anyone’s guess, but it definitely isn’t the hit at hand. Everyone else though, including the media, is watching this. Rather than using the little media that actually follows the NHL, especially in the wake of the Olympics, to write about the awesome hockey that is being played, they instead focus their attention on the trainwrecks in center ice.
I’m convinced Gary Bettman sleeps in a Sidney Crosby jersey, but by allowing this behavior to go on without a consistent method of suspending players when seasons or careers are ended he’s doing no one any favors, including Sidney himself. I’ve had this discussion with a good friend/Devils fan (who can’t agree with me, given Scott Stevens perfected these hits) more times than I can count and I’ve said over and over that this won’t stop until Crosby, not someone like him, but he himself gets severely injured by some talentless goon. I can’t stand the little nuisance, but the last thing I want to see is him taken off the ice in a stretcher.
Sadly, it seems like one day it’s going to come down to just that.