The NHL Needs To Finally Get It Right




Watching these clips of incidents involving late hits, sucker punches, swung sticks, and body blows to the head from this season, it becomes very clear that the NHL has a growing problem on their hands.

These clips I've featured here have all been controvercial for one reason or another, and have ignited furious passions among hockey fans with opposing arguments.

At a recent NHL Board of Governors meeting, the league has set out increase the number of instigator fighting calls a player can receive before warranting a suspension. Anaheim GM Brian Burke, whose team has the most fighting majors in the league his season, not coincidentally, led the charge for altering the ruling.

It's my opinion that the NHL simply do away with the instigator call altogether. It might have more of an effect on cutting down on instances such as those seen in these clips, than the NHL's present policing and sentencing policies currently in place.

I would help a great deal, if the four on ice officials could actually get a call correct for once.

In several of these incidents, no call on the initial plays were made at all. Infractions have gone unpenalized as the officials claim that they did not see, or have a clear view, of the play. I find this quite odd, in fact. Going back to last seasons high stick to Saku Koivu's eye by Carolina's Jason Williams, I have become increasingly irritated by how the league folds its arms and closes it's eyes to such things. It is completely unthinkable that 4 of the so-called members of what should be the best hockey officials in the world, can continuously blow calls like these. In the aftermath, the league tends to back up their incompetance repeatedly.





The suspensions handed out to qualify the severity of these abhorrences are equally lucridous.

Each of these incidents are seemingly rendered with degrees of unacceptability, with all the expertise of an amateur figure skating judge looking at what makes a perfect triple axle.

The mounting problems and increase in incidents are a call for stiffer rulings and sentencing that will act as a deterent. Since the league cannot depend on the on ice officials to get things right and control much of the game, the imposed suspensions and fines will have to do the talking.

Since the Bertuzzi-Moore catastrophy of three years ago was fumbled in major proportion by the entire league, a certain on ice frontier justice is being tolerated. If what Bertuzzi ultimately received in accordance to his acts, is supposedly the new standard of fines ans suspensions, it is little wonder why the incidents continue.



I feel it is time for the league to impose benchmark fines and suspensions that call for longer and stiffer expulsions as well as complete removal of earned salary for the duration of a players purgatory.

I believe that standard numbers of games for certain fouls be set without flinching. If a players actions lead to a long term injury, such as a concussion, then the player committing the fouls must remain out of hockey for the same duration as the hurt player. If the injured players career is ended as a result of a hit ruled inapropriate, then the committing player is done with as well.

Furthermore, in lesser cases, a suspended player should not be allowed to participate in games against that opponant, or his team, for the balance of one season and the entirety of the next - including playoffs. This would cut down completely on any incidents of vengence and retribution that could follow.

Blows to a players head would need to be qualified as such that the only tolerated incidents, involve two willing participants in a fight - both dropping the gloves simultaneously. If a player refuses to drop the gloves and go, the player throwing punches would be liable for suspension.

I feel it is time for the league to impose benchmark fines and suspensions that call for longer and stiffer expulsions as well as complete removal of earned salary for the duration of a players purgatory.



I believe that standard numbers of games for certain fouls be set without flinching. If a players actions lead to a long term injury, such as a concussion, then the player committing the fouls must remain out of hockey for the same duration as the hurt player. If the injured players career is ended as a result of a hit ruled inapropriate, then the committing player is done with as well.

Furthermore, in lesser cases, a suspended player should not be allowed to participate in games against that opponant, or his team, for the balance of one season and the entirety of the next - including playoffs. This would cut down completely on any incidents of vengence and retribution that could follow.

Blows to a players head would need to be qualified as such that the only tolerated incidents, involve two willing participants in a fight - both dropping the gloves simultaneously. If a player refuses to drop the gloves and go, the player throwing punches would be liable for suspension.

In the matters of hit to the head using sticks or elbows, a minimum 41 game suspension for causing injury should be put in place. In the instances of shoulders making contact, degrees of acceptability should be considered in respect to the players sizes versus one another. Only what is clearly defined as a clean hit should be tolerated.

When the league initially ruled on Steve Moore's hit on Markus Naslund, it should be recalled that Moore was not penalized for the gesture. Upon many reviews afterwards, it was clearly shown that Moore hit Naslund just as the Canuck player slouched to extend himself in reaching for a puck that had slipped away. The officials in this case made the correct call on the play. It is however, debatable that had a minor or major penalty been called on Moore, it would have diffused the entire incident that followed in the coming weeks.


Of course, all rulings would have grey area's that would require much clarification. In regards to the Kaberle and Drury incidents, there is little doubt that the boards and the ice, respectively, caused the players injuries in these cases. However, such facts do not absDrury's case, a helmet that was poorly strapped down, resulted in a more significant injury that the hit itself. The Simon and Emery fouls involved sticks swung at an opponants head or face, and should be dealt with in an intolerant fashion.

In respect to Scott olve the idea that illegal hits provoked such falls. In the Cam Janssen hit on Kaberle, the contact on the play was extremely late. In Nichol's sucker punch directed at Jaroslav Spacek, the league again blew the call by not nailing the true perpetrator. Spacek received nothing for his trip of Nichol into the goal net - an act that should have been as harshly dealt with. Had an an official stepped in and made a call, leading Spacek away, Nichol may not have been so enraged as to seek revenge immediatly following the deed.



What this column is essentially getting at, is that the penalties invoked upon each incident should not merely penalize the said infractions committed, but act as deterrents for future incidents. The level of the suspensions and fines made mandatory ought to make players think more than twice on what they are about to do.

While my suggestions are quite harsh, I feel that this is the required track considering all that has been seen this season. If players have lost respect for one another to such a high degree, it is now in the leagues hands to deal with the growing problem.

The next Bertuzzi - Moore incident is frighteningly right around the corner if the NHL continues to fail and turn a blind eyes to such a reality.

One black eye was enough. I feel the league needs to have a summit session on this issue as soon as possible.

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