"You Gotta Be Kidding!"
by Mickey Charles CEO, sportsnetwork.com
Huntingdon Valley, Pa (Sports Network) -
Until someone is blinded, maimed, scarred, crippled, put into a coma or killed. And then, with that totally unnecessary occurrence under their belts, the NHL can issue the most feared of disciplinary actions, probably thought of by them to be akin to questioning by the architects of the Spanish Inquisition?a six-game suspension. Horror of horrors!
I have never understood why professional hockey teams needed their own brand of The Godfather, with enforcers, tough guys, bullies, gangsters and hoodlums whose claim to fame is that they wield hockey sticks instead of knives and guns. One of them, Donald Brashear of the Vancouver Canucks, suffered a head injury during a game recently against the Boston Bruins after he was hit from behind (hitting from in front where someone can be seen and possibly avoided simply is not in vogue) by a two-handed slash at the hands of Boston's version of Don Corleone, Marty McSorley.
Ready. There was just 2.7 seconds to play.
McSorley came up on Brashear's blind side and introduced his stick to his opponent's cranium, ripping his helmet from his head with the force of the blow. It was predictable in a sport that has become as noted for violence as boxing, wrestling (feigned as it is), cock fighting and kick boxing. It has never been a sport renowned for the talent that it puts on display every night of the season. The exceptions, Gretzky, Lindros, Lemieux, Jagr, Richard, LeFleur, Hull, Howe and others are exceptions to the rule. These two, McSorley and Brashear, had engaged in a fight in the first period and this was payback time, the stuff that gangs prowling the alleys of New York and Los Angeles thrive upon. It was hockey's version of a drive by.
McSorley received the largest suspension in NHL history, 23 games.
When McSorley fell, his head hit the ice and he lay motionless before being placed in a neck brace and carried off the ice by teammates. Undoubtedly, as this drama took place, the hierarchy of the NHL were meeting in the men's room, the executive one, not to determine how to put a stop to it but probably to put a minimum number on how many fights could take place each period. They are likely still debating between 15 and 20.
Follow the events. Brashear, to the relief of all, regains consciousness in the locker room and McSorley is given a match penalty, leaves the ice and fans barrage him with anything not nailed down. The deliberate attempt to injure comes with an automatic review for suspension. Not detention or banishment but suspension. Not go find a job in a junkyard tossing tires on piles but a suspension. Not this sport is no longer for you and be lucky you were not put in jail but a suspension.
The same fans that support fighting in the NHL probably existed in some Shirley MacLaine earlier life as Romans who were the first to print, publish or buy programs to see which Christians were going to meet the lions first. Not from Detroit?the real ones! They, the Christians, would have done better against the boys from the Motor City.
McSorley was heard to say, "I'm still in shock at what I did. There's no excuse. It was so stupid. I can't believe I did it." Someone, please, show him the tape. Are athletes to be given a free ride for mayhem and endangerment because they wear uniforms? Give me a break! Is your mentality truly so warped that you endorse this and excuse it?
In the 1993-94 season Dale Hunter, of the then Washington Capitals, was banned for the first 21 games of the season after a vicious blow to Pierre Turgeon of the New York Islanders in the '93 playoffs.
Let me make this even clearer, just in case you were not watching the game. Brashear, in addition to his fight with McSorley, was involved in a goal-mouth collision with Boston net guardian Bryan Dafoe in the first period when he fell on Dafoe, who had to be carted off the ice with a right knee injury. One has to wonder if Brashear kept little helmet logos on his locker room door back in Vancouver the way fighter pilots used to do in WWII when downing an enemy aircraft.
So, what does the NHL do? They suspend the Bruins' defenseman for the balance of the season, including the playoffs and he has to meet with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman before the end of the season. He should be meeting with his parole officer! This is the last year of McSorely's contract and it should be his last appearance on the ice of any NHL team. Forgive and forget has no place for hooligans like him.
He loses $72,000 and someone else could have lost an eye, or worse. The fact that this is the longest suspension in NHL history for an on-ice incident is nonsense. That is for record books. Has anyone in the NHL taken a close look at reality of late? Outspoken groups from coast to coast want less violence in films and on TV lest our youth be corrupted, the very same youth donning the shirts and numbers of idiots like McSorley. This blueliner almost caused a flatline.
The real problem is that Colin Campbell, league vice president in charge of disciplinary affairs, had the effrontery to say, "Mr. McSorley's act is entirely unacceptable. It would be grossly unfair to suggest that his conduct is at all representative of the game, of the other players who play in the NHL or of the countless others who play hockey at all levels." That comment is as outrageous as the act. It is precisely what hockey is all about, what it has become, what it is. Campbell's rose colored and tinted glasses have to be wiped clean for he is not watching the same game as the rest of the world.
The league would be perfectly happy if McSorley returned next year and the Bruins had an opportunity to get even. Think of the ticket sales for that encounter! What else do they think of? He has had 17 years in the NHL, a longer career lifespan that most Mafia members. It is time for him to leave and be thankful that he is not in prison. Being on the ice for the NHL is not, contrary to the belief of the league, teams and players, a license to do bodily harm at the drop of a puck or glove.
The NHL has been wrestling on ice for a long time. It has been a disgrace. It has remained a cult following sport and not risen to the top of the ladder because of its attitude towards mayhem interspersed with hockey. It is not what the fans want. It is what the fans have been given and they lust for blood, like the infield sitters at a NASCAR race, waiting for a pile-up that is half the reason for being there. It is a societal negative.
Will the NHL grow up and realize that it is a sport with the finest skaters in the world and it does not need the finest slashers, punchers, kickers, biters, hitters and lesser mentalities to succeed? Ask Donald Brashear. You gotta be kidding both of us.