For all those fans out there who have watched Flyers fans fire back over and over with ludicrous accusations, I apologize. As a Flyers fan, it pains me to see what is currently going on not only with Steve Downie himself, but with other Flyers fans. On one front, I am proud to be a fan of the organization because I can see how the fans here rally together and will defend their players at any cost. However, I also realize how blinded some of them are by their love for the team.
Here are the facts as I see them:
---The Downie hit was dirty ; he left his feet. His elbows never came up. You can argue all you want if it was a charge or if it was too late for a hit or whatever, it hardly matters in the grand scheme of things when you have already admitted wrongdoing.
---Too many people are attempting to judge the result instead of the action. Keep the concussion out of this. Work with the facts; you have a guy who is guilty of an illegal hit that could have proven very costly to the entire career of McAmmond.
--- McAmmond needs to stay aware of what is going on around him. Although I do not condone the hit Downie made, one of the first things you learn in check hockey is to always keep your head up and be aware of where people are. McAmmond got caught admiring his pass. I'm sure he still would have taken a pounding if he had seen the hit coming, and the hit would still have been illegal, but he may have been able to brace himself a bit to better take the impact.
---Leave Downie's past out of this. We all understand he is a loose cannon who needs to be reprimanded. We all understand it will be the job of the Flyers organization and the league to get him into a better mental state. Those are givens. Again, judge the act during the game as this is his only incident in the NHL.
---Schubert's hit was legal. Stop trying to justify Downie's hit by saying the Schubert hit wasn't a legal hit. It was. Downie was on the receiving end of a rough check. Nuff said.
---Ignore precious incidents in the NHL regarding Armstrong, Domi, Neil, etc. They are irrelevant. I understand the outrage from fans on both sides of the hit when comparing the Downie hit to other hits in the past. I too am guilty of attempting to look for validation from other past incidents. However, this is a new NHL with a new zero tolerance rule. This particular hit will set the standard for penalties being enforced to players, and should not be compared to those of the past with regards to the length of the suspension.
---Downie should have the book thrown at him for this. I'm sorry to the rest of the Flyer fans out there that will disagree with me... but as of September 1st there was a zero tolerance rule put into effect. My belief is that he should get somewhere around 28 regular season games, as well as be required to take some psychiatric evaluation tests. This takes him out of about 1/3 of the season and gives him time to think about the hit. If you think this is too little, look at it this way - Downie had a chance at cracking the roster with the injuries the Flyers have sustained. With a 28 game suspension it would mean more than enough time for all those injured to get healthy, so he would be of no use to the Flyers. It is significant enough to be out that long. Taking things even one step further, it may help to quell anyone's rage toward him. He will already have a target on him from other teams the second he hits the ice in the NHL again anyhow. The suspension should carry to either the NHL or the AHL, depending on where he is going to be placed.
---Suspend McGrattan. His comments were way off base. I understand the want to protect teammates and get retribution, but speaking these things to the media is a bad move. The league will need to step in and make a stand on this issue too and should suspend him 3 to 5 games for the comment. The last thing we need is another incident like the one with Bertuzzi.
That's my stand on the issues, but I guess we shall see where everything goes today - as Downie's suspension is supposed to be announced. Whatever the case is, I am sure there will be people on both sides of the debate just waiting to be up in arms about how it's too little or too much. Lets just hope they can make a decision that will truly protect the players in all of this.