Thursday, May 17, 2007

Good Point, Why Doesn't It Apply To The NHL?

The Venerable Off Wing Opinion jumps into the fray of the Spurs-Sun suspensions in the NBA playoffs and I have to give kudos to his wrap up:


One thing Stern knows for sure: Any video zipping around the world of a group of predominantly African-American men brawling on a basketball court will be judged harshly and unjustly by the league's sponsors.

So, in a way, Stern is committing a minor injustice today in order to avoid seeing the league's sponsors and advertisers inflict a greater injustice upon the NBA and all of its players tomorrow.


And of course, he's exactly right.

But as you can tell by the title of this post, why doesn't this apply to the NHL? How are videos of stick swingings and brawling on the ice zipping around the world a boon to the NHL?

Please don't give me the long-discredited lectures about "tradition." It hasn't worked for the NHL before and won't be working for the NHL in the future. If you want to make an argument about racism, please be my guest but I'm not jumping on that bandwagon either simply because of the NHL's own past and present.

I've outlined here numerous times how the NHL needs to clean up its act if it ever wants to join "the big boys" club and in the interest of levity, you can just click on the label below to get a full rundown of where I stand and why.

Of course the other interesting thing of note here is reaction to this. Some of these guys sound exactly like the Ultimate Fighting on Ice (UFOI) fans that plague the NHL. Statements like "sticking up for team mates" and "natural reactions" are bandied about. The embarrassing Stephen A. Jackson on ESPN sounded like he cribbed his entire diatribe about the suspensions from Ultimate Fighting on Ice Fans.com. I wonder how many of these guys when confronted with a similar situation in the NHL (take your pick) responded "eh, business as usual in the NHL"?

Yes I'm nitpicking the VOWO here (and he may not actually think this), but how did Stern committ a minor injustice here? The rule itself prevented an ugly incident (a pretty blatant hip check in the open court) from getting even uglier because instead of both benches emptying onto the court, only two players were stupid enough to do so. Secondly, he carried out the rule and issued the suspensions that the rule called for because nobody is willing to argue that Amare Stoudemire and Boris Diaw did NOT violate it. Instead we get wonderful statements like "spirit of the rule" and this humdinger from Jon Barry who says coming off the bench but NOT joining an altercation should be allowed. For what Jon? A better view of the altercation for those on the bench? How far should they be allowed to come off the bench for a better view? Can they get say within five feet of the altercation before they get suspended?

I also love this sacrosanctification of the playoffs. Why, why the playoffs are soooooo important that you can't possibly even consider disciplining a player who violates a rule that calls for discipline. You'll irreparably harm their team, the fans, and the game itself if the best players aren't playing in the biggest games of the season.

Well maybe these players should consider that before stepping off the bench, even if it is just for a better view of the altercation. The other question that begs, what other infractions should be ignored during the playoffs?

Simply put, Stern did the right thing here and no injustice was committed. The rule is in place for a reason and once you start taking "extenuating circumstances" into account, you take the teeth out of the rule. Once that happens, the problem that the rule was intended to correct in the first place never gets solved.

I kinda wish the NHL was willing to do this.

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