I just posted this elsewhere and after reading phi1671's blog I decided to post it here as well. Great post phi1671, I agree with everything you said. While this may seem more like a rant the underlying theme is the same and I'm glad there are a lot of people speaking out about what is going on in the NHL this year. However it is unfortunate to see the mixed reactions by the fans. This is not an attack on Zdeno Chara or the Boston Bruins nor is it a time to be defensive of your favourite player or team if involved in a controversy. It is not a time to blame the people of Montreal for getting the police involved and it is certainly not the time to play the tough guy card for NHL players. I love the game of hockey (if I didn't I wouldn't be writing this), and minus the injuries this has been a great season to watch.
I can rant all day about Gary Bettman, headshots, and the business of hockey. So can a lot of people. However when the emotions settle and the dust clears there are simple questions that I am asking. Who is really to blame here? All the articles and blogs out there have different opinions. Have the players loss respect and have no code to follow anymore? Are the coaches and management not imbedding the fact these plays are wrong into the player’s heads? Are NHL executives to blame for not cracking down? Or is the game just too fast and the equipment just not good enough?
While the incidents and injuries that have occurred this year struck the match into this argument, Gary Bettman and the NHL executives have fuelled the fire. This is not a public relations fiasco that needs to be contained, we are talking about the well being of the people who play Canada’s game. This is a petition for the NHL to change the direction in which the game of hockey is headed. I began writing this after I saw the press U.S. congressional panel discussion with Gary Bettman, who said that “our hockey operations people are extraordinarily comfortable with the decision that they made” when referring the Chara hit. This is what Gary Bettman had to say about the injuries this season:
“The rising concussions off of the preliminary data for this season seem to be coming from accidental events, collisions, players falling and banging into other things not from head hits, and so, before you over legislate because our players are pretty conscious of what they are allowed to do and not allowed to do you’ve got to look at the source of what the problem is”
A few problems with that. First, “falling and banging into other things”....really, what other things? Boards? Stanchions? Other players? The ice? There are not that many “other things” out there for players to hit. They aren’t playing hockey in the middle of the 401, they are hurting each other bottom line. What Bettman says about hits to the head oddly resembles what he said about fighting last year, a debate that has slowly disintegrated, or hopefully absorbed into the discussion of head shots. The second problem I have with this quote is that players clearly do not know what they are allowed to do and what they are not allowed to do. However thanks to one NHL executive they now know that the hit that Chara laid on Pacioretty is allowed, so thank you for the clarification on that. There are two hits that I want to bring up to prove my point:
Komisarek’s hit on Carcillo March 10 2011 - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3o4U6nad1XI
This hit will definitely be overlooked by many in the NHL community since there was no injury on the play however if players know what is wrong and what is right then this hit should be inexcusable. Carcillo was skating towards the boards with his back to Komisarek and Komisarek crosschecked him in the back straight into the boards. Also it will be important to note that this hit will not be included in Bettman’s research data because Carcillo fell and banged into the boards, so clearly not Komisarek’s fault...except for the fact that it was a hit from behind, intent to injure, boarding, and he has done things like this in the past.
Dan Paille hit on Sawada http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GpCfulC1fFk
The hit itself was bad enough but that not what bothers me that most. First, the announcer asks the colour commentator if the hit was a blindside hit and/or a hit to head and not only does he say its “0 for 2” but he said he enjoyed it... The second part that bothers me is that Andrew Ference tells the media that he thinks it was a dirty hit and then gets bashed about it by big names in the media. Three people specifically that I would like to point out: Michael Landsberg of TSN, Don Cherry of Coaches Corner and Mike Millbury a former NHL player, coach, GM and current NHL analyst for NESN, Hockey Night in Canada and NBC. If you know hockey you know these three names and for all three to give Ference grief for going to the media with his disgust about what is going on in the NHL right now is ridiculous.
Another problem is have with Bettman’s choice of words is how he decided to go about the sponsorship problem. “Air Canada is a great brand as is the National Hockey League and if they decide that they need to do other things with their sponsorship dollars, that’s their prerogative,” Then going on to threaten Air Canada by saying “It is the prerogative of our clubs that fly on Air Canada to make other arrangements if they don’t think Air Canada is giving them the appropriate level of service.” As far as I know Air Canada did not bring this to media, the NHL did, and it is sickening that Bettmen would fire back a threat considering the topic at hand.
There is absolutely no way that Air Canada would even consider backing out of their deal, but it is really not the point. VIA Rail has now recently come out to say they are troubled with how the NHL has dealt with this situation. No doubt more will step forward. I am very interested to see what the NHL will do next, if anything.
I started a Twitter account as well @ NoNHL_Headshots