One of the NHL’s main directive’s is to “Grow the Game”. The best advertising for hockey is the playoffs where skill and grit are on full display. The problem this year is that hasn’t been the case. The grit is still there but the skill has been replaced by goons and thuggish behavior.
While the first round has been entertaining with tis gladiator like theatrics. The said reality is that this display is hurting the league and its hopes to grow the game.
The NHL needs to get control and do it fast. They need to stop these head shots on all players not just the stars and bring the skill back into the game.
Well luckily for the NHL I have the solution and I’m willing to share it with them at no cost.
In the US during the 80’s the government decided to crack down on drugs. They introduced a initiative called mandatory minimums. Pretty much it set guidelines for offenses. There was no plea bargaining, no negotiating. If you had X amount of cocaine on you you got X amount of time. Now we can discuss the social and racial implications in how it relates to drug policy but in theory the idea is sound and could be easily implied to the NHL.
Lets say we start with head shots. You make contact with another players head then it an automatic one game for a first offense. You do it again in the same season its 3 games. If you are stupid enough to do it again then 10 and after that if you do it again you are gone for the season. Its simple and everyone can understand it. There is no subjectivism involved. If you commit the offense you have a set punishment.
Now if a player is injured (verified by an independent doctor) the player who committed the infraction is out as long as the player is unable to play.
Yes this will lead to some ticky tack suspensions. A guy gets up a little high and he’s gone for a game but trust me after a month of this players will start to understand.
The NHL has a problem and now its time for the adults to solve it. The players aren’t to blame. They are just playing according to the rules and precedent set by the NHL. Want to know why these playoffs are so brutal then all you have to do is look no further then the Sea Weber incident.
Weber went all WWE on Zetterberg, smashing his opponents head into the glass. It was brutal and barbaric yet Weber only got a $2500 fine. Weber makes $7 million a year. So to put that into context it would be if you made $50,000 a year and were fined $16.
The other teams took notice and all gloves were off so to speak. With a simple case of non action the NHL said that it was open season on its players and that anything goes. Well as you can imagine that didn’t go well. There were fights, head shots, sucker punches, you name it. Last weekend was probably the bloodiest in playoff history.
So then the NHL decides to crack down and they go hard after Andrew Shaw who inadvertently collided with Coyotes Goaltender Mike Smith. Of all of the infractions this past weekend this was not even close to being the worst. It was an accident and the Coyotes played the NHL to get Shaw suspended. Smith laid on the ice long enough until the refs kicked Shaw out then he bounced up and played the rest of the game.
The Coyotes then listed Smith as questionale for the next game and said he might not play. The NHL saw this and cracked down hard on Shaw, suspending him for 3 games. Minutes after the suspension comes down its announced that Smith will play. Well played Coyotes, well played.
Mandatory minimums will help combat this. Teams won’t be able to fudge injury reports to try and draw a suspension. If a player claims to be hurt on one of these plays then he shall be examined by an independent doctor not one on a NHL team’s payroll.
There would be a sense of openness and visibility that is lacking at this time. The layers would no exactly what is expected of them and know exactly what will happen if they cross the line.
Hockey is a great sport but there is a perception that its just a bunch of toothless morons going at each other. Until the NHL gets serious about protecting its players and the integrity of the game that perception isn’t going to change anytime soon.
Category: Jets News