More shennanigan's by the league.

I love Hockey and the NHL players, but the NHL, as an organization, is one of the most poorly run units I may have ever seen. One of the biggest things keeping people away from the seats, despite the exorbitant price of tickets, is the "goon" image the league has developed among casual fans.

The league is doing it's best to enhance that image, by not understanding, at all, what it will take to keep players from creating dangerous situations. The media does it's part, both the hockey media AND the general sports media, by only playing up the hits that result in injury and making a fuss when something stupid happens. Everyone remembers the "outrage" of Randy Jones' awkward and dangerous hit on Patrice Bergeron at the beginning of the season.

The media outrage was out there, and it was written about all over the hockey media. Randy Jones ended up getting a 2 game suspension for the hit, and I thought that was pretty fair. Individually this doesn't bother me. What really bothers me is that if there was a similar hit by the NHL where an injury doesn't occur it will be largely ignored, not only by the media but by the NHL itself. Well the problem with a statement like that is that it's difficult to prove, the NHL can say "We review every hit and take appropriate action...corporate speak blah, blah, blah"

All I can say to that is watch Robyn Regehr of the Calgary Flames take out one of the leagues best Young players, Ales Hemsky:

Exactly how are those hits different? As usual the blogs get it right because there was appropriate reaction in the blogosphere, most vivedly over at Battle of Alberta

It also got a little play on the NHLFanhouse (which i can't find at the moment but that's where I saw it) but it doesn't get nearly the play it deserved. This hit was on "Hockey Night in Canada" for god's sake. A good, but by no means household name, hit one of the leagues best young players, in the back of the neck sending him to the boards head first. This could have been a disaster. The only difference between this hit and the Jones-Bergeron hit is that a) Hemsky got up (slowly) and b) This hit was worse. Hemsky just got luckier than Bergeron.

Yet here's the official punishment for Regehr: boarding - 2 min 0:58 (3rd period), R. Regehr

Are you serious? The league has effectively said "dangerous hits are acceptable as long as the player gets up, but if that player gets hurt we'll suspend you so we can get the Jackel's off of our back." Regehr deserves at least 2 games for this hit, to match Jones punishment. It's time for Colin Campbell to go, he obviously knows nothing about punishment and discipline.

Yet the league will go on, and the Hemskys and Bergerons will continue to get checked into the boards until one day they end up in a wheelchair and the NHL will face yet another public relations nightmare, when it could all be prevented by establishing that these hits are unacceptable, a precedent they are are not willing to take.


  1. 1) Good points about the apparent inconsistency in NHL punishment. We did a post on this last month:
    2) We like to distinguish though the difference between these potentially injury causing hits and fighting. Many try to lump both together under the term goonery. We reject that concept.
    3) In fact years ago when fighting was MUCH more prevalent, these kind of hits were rare. Coincidence? We don't think so. Players are much less worried about having to 'pay for' cheap shots than they were 20+ years ago
    4) Also, many players have adjusted to the more strict manner in which refs call 'boarding', and are turning towards the boards to protect the puck and attempting to draw calls when they are checked from behind; Placing themselves into vulnerable positions
    5) What we CAN agree on is that the NHL needs a more consistent manner to police dangerous hits. Right now it seems the outcome of the hit(injury or not)/public/media outrage is the driving force behind severe penalties doled out

  2. I agree with everything in the original post and the comment above.

    Just thought I'd let you know.

  3. I want to point out I agree with you Faux. I mentioned it in my post briefly, I think, but Fighting isn't goonery. It's mano-y-mano and both players have a fair chance. Fighting should not be put in the same category as the hits I referenced.