Tuesday, March 22, 2011

random hockey post

I rarely write anything about hockey. There are 28,309,146 hockey blogs out there, and around 98.3% of what anybody writes about hockey is blather - like all other sports.

Anyway, in addition to being a lifelong hockey fan, I'm a Pittsburgh Penguins fan. Lately, that's been great, because of players like Sidney Crosby, Kris Letang, Marc-André Fleury, and so on. Crosby has been the best player in hockey since he started in the NHL in 2005, and this season was looking to be his most productive as a scorer. In January, Crosby was hit in the head in two successive games, and has been unable to play since because of concussion. The first hit was not called a penalty, but was in my opinion a deliberate action in attempt to injure. The second was called a penalty, and did result in Sid's head striking the edge of the wall around the ice, but I don't think it was an attempt to injure, just a dumb play.

Controversy over head shots has heated up ever since. Two games ago, Penguins forward Matt Cooke, who has a long history of doing stupid and deliberately injurious things during games, elbowed a New York Rangers player in the head, and received a game penalty and a suspension through the end of the regular season and the first round of the playoffs.

Hockey fandom and media are basically unanimous in praise of the suspension, because, they repeat, the NHL finally got the discipline right.


Unfortunately for all hockey fans, what the NHL did was on the basis of this player's reputation and history, and the current controversy. I am not saying that Matt Cooke should be allowed to deliberately target opponents' heads with his elbows. I am saying that the punishment befit the criminal, not the crime. It wasn't justice; it wasn't even discipline. They made an example of him. Cooke's suspension is a spectacle, or a PR campaign (especially after Penguins owner Mario Lemieux made such a big deal about head hits), to show the NHL is Really Taking Player Safety Very Seriously Indeed.

I believe all the blather about head shots and attempt-to-injure penalties lately really misses a main factor: the salary cap. (If any hockey fans happen by, I do mean that seriously, but you may have noticed this really isn't a hockey-related blog, so I'm not going to pursue it.)

Anyway, enough about this.

1 comment:

Bobo the Wandering Pallbearer said...

Hockey post? I thought they called them hockey sticks?