Can the National Hockey League really expect it's teams to take it seriously when it says things like "no message sending" and "no confrontations with fans" when it doesn't even act on most of the dirty things that happen on the ice?
Ok, yes, they suspended Daniel Carcillo for his "hit" on Max Talbot (I still question whether or not that was intentional), and Andre Roy for his pregame "contact" with Blackhawks defenseman Aaron Johnson, and Boston's Milan Lucic for his hit at the end of game one in the Habs-Bruins series.
But the leauge somehow missed the intentional cross-check by Adam Burish on Rene Bourque at the end of game four, the hit from behind on Jordan Staal at the end of PHI-PIT game one, the fight in the same game that was instigated by Bill Guerin within the last five minutes of the third period in a game where the outcome was decided, and I'm waiting to see if the league office ignores the intentional hit to the head of Blair Betts by Donald Brashear in this afternoon's game six.
The league expects to be taken seriously? Those are just the hits I saw. I'm certain that if I had been able to watch every second of every game I could find at least 10 more per game.
As for dealing with the crowd, I'm not taking sides on this issue. It seems like the League was anxious to assert it's authority and they rushed the investigation. If they had really completed a thorough investigation including talking to Rangers bench personnel (which they claim) I doubt the league would have dealt out such a harsh punishment. They might even have handed some the Capitals' way for their lack of security.
I'm all for the league disciplining players and coaches who violate the rules of good sportsmanship, but they need to make a couple of changes first.
1.) Investigations can hardly be called "complete and thorough" when they are conducted in less than 24 hours on a weekend. You expect me to believe they really got in touch with EVERY witness in that short amount of time? I can't even get in touch with my classmates on facebook that fast!
2.) Clear, consistant guidelines. What exactly constitutes "sending a message?" Does the last-five fighting rule no longer apply in the playoffs? What, exactly, are the criteria to determine "intent to injure?" I'm not saying the league needs to perfectly spell out everything. That would tie it's hands to those rules. However they need more specifics so that people will take them seriously. How was Doug Weight's hit in the regular season worthy of a suspension, but Adam Burrish's wasn't? And why did Derek Boogard get five games while other players were only getting one or two? Specifics, Mr. Bettman!
The League needs to come down the same way every time or else players are going to continue to ignore things. Now that Tortorella has been suspended for his actions, any coach that acts in a similar way needs to receive the same punishment. If the league continues its hit-and-miss policy, players will continue to take their chances.
That goes for on-ice actions as well. The league said it was going to begin taking only one player from post-whistle scrums. That lasted about five games. Now they take one from each team. Even when they were taking just one it always seemed to be the one retaliating, not the one instigating.
I like Jarome Iginla, but the league has a rule that says if you drop the gloves to fight and no one goes with you it is still two for roughing. Sean Avery got hit with that in the Devils-Rangers last regular season game, but Jarome Iginla does it every time he's on the ice and there is a post-whistle scrum. How come I never see him in the box?
Consistancy, please Mr. Cambell and Mr. Bettman. The fans will love you for it and you'll be able to have packed arenas again.