I was brought up understanding that all men are created equal, regardless of who you are. This should be true for the NHL. Regardless of whether you play for the worst team in the NHL, or the best team in the NHL, the top scorer in the league, or you struggle to get one point each season, you should be treated with the same.
What I said in my introduction is not the case in the NHL. I'm going to use a few examples to show this. The NHL is not a fair league, and is biased in how it disciplines it's players.
First, I use the case of Marty McSorely. For those of you who don't remember, in 2000, he broke his stick over Donald Brashear's head. He was suspended for the remaining 23 games of the season. After he was found guilty of assault with a weapon, the NHL suspended him for a full season, and McSorely never played another game in his NHL career. McSorely never had huge numbers. The most amount of goals he ever scored in a season was 15 and normally had a lot of penalty minutes. Not exactly a superstar.
The next case is that of Todd Bertuzzi. On February 16, 2004, Bertuzzi chased down Steve Moore, punched him in the back of the head, and drove him headfirst into the ice. Moore suffered a grade three concussion and three fractured vertebrae. Moore's NHL career was ended, and he has not played since. Bertuzzi recieved a 20 game suspension. He continues to play in the NHL today. However, let's look at Bertuzzi's numbers. During the height of his career, he was scoring 20 plus goals a season, and continues to play to this day. The reason why his suspension was ended early is because the comissioner of the NHL, deemed that it was that he tried to apologize, and that he had already served 20 games. Moore was 26 when this happened.
In the 2006-2007 season, Tomas Kaberle was hit by Cam Janssen, while he was nowhere near the puck. Janssen was suspended for 3 games, while Kaberle was out with injury for a few weeks. Chris Neil, for the Senators, has stated numerous times that his intention is to harm his opponents. Yet he continues to play, even after elbowing Chris Drury, while Drury didn't have the puck, during the same season.
Now, let's look at what's happened this week. This is just during games that I have seen this week. During the game between the Sabres vs Capitals on Wednesday this past week, Patrick Kaleta was hit from behind by Alexander Ovechkin, and driven head first into the boards. With about 16 minutes to go in the game, Ovechkin was ejected. He recieved a 5 minute boarding penalty as well. Friday, Patrick Kaleta hit Jared Ross, agains the boards on the forecheck. This was deemed by the official a 5 minute boarding penalty, and Kaleta was ejected as well. Today, the NHL handed out their suspensions on these similar penalties.
Kaleta has been suspended for two games for this hit. Ovechkin a goal tonight against the Canadians.
I understand 100% that this is a theory. Ovechkin is a big name player. Imagine if Kaleta had hit him instead of vice versa. Think Kaleta would have been suspended for a lot longer? What if he hit Crosby? All is fair in hockey. It doesn't matter who hits who. The punishments need to be the same throughout the league. Right now, it is not. Hitting is part of the game, there are going to be penalties that warrant suspensions. Am I a little confused on Kaleta's suspension? Yes, but I understand why it was made. It should be consistant with what Ovechkin too.
The NHL favors it's big name players. They are protected to no end. This should be the same to all the NHL players. If someone like Crosby and Ovechkin are protected, the same should be for Kaleta and Neil. As far as I'm concerned, all NHL players are created equal. It's time to treat them like that. If a two game suspension is what Kaleta got, perhaps Ovechkin should have gotten that too. McSorely's suspension should have been matched by Bertuzzi, if not worse, especially since he ended a young players career. By the way, Brashear, the one McSorely hit, continues to play today.
I write this as a call to arms. If you're a hockey fan, regardless of what team you root for, it's time for the NHL front office to stop being biased. Let's treat all the players consistantly. No more of this double standards. What message does this send to young players as well? I guess it's ok for good players to do some things, but not your average players. It's time for the NHL to treat all it's players equally. Mr. Bettman, lets treat all teams and players equally. No more of the double standard that the NHL shows us on a regular basis.