Saturday, March 13, 2010

To Err Is Human, To Forgive Is Divine

NHL Senior Vice President and Director of Operations Colin Campbell must really be taking this Holy season of Lent to heart.  That would greatly help to explain why after looking the other way on Matt Cooke's hit on Marc Savard he did the exact same thing with Philadelphia Flyers' forward Dan Carcillo refusing to suspend him as well.  Though Carcillo merely shoved linesman Greg Devorski who was trying to break up a fight on Thursday night instead of cheap shotting somebody onto a stretcher like Cooke did.

And maybe that is why Dan Carcillo isn't getting the attention that Matt Cooke did.  The NHL wasn't "embarrassed" (we use the quotes because it is clear that nothing really embarrasses the NHL) by somebody being carried off on a stretcher and no traumatic brain injuries were suffered.  But something about this did catch out eye and we feel more than obligated to point it out.

In explaining his decision making process in the Matt Cooke Incident, Colin Campbell claimed that because the NHL Suggestion Book was silent on matter of intentional hits to the head that cause injuries; he could not take any supplemental action against Matt Cooke.  However, in the case of Daniel Carcillio, NHL Suggestions 40 and 41 are all about Abuse of the Officials.  Suggestion 41 specifically covers Physical Abuse of the Officials and Suggestion 41.1 and 41.3 apply directly in the case of Carcillo:
Any player who deliberately applies physical
force in any manner against an official, in any manner attempts to
injure an official, physically demeans, or deliberately applies physical
force to an official solely for the purpose of getting free of such an
official during or immediately following an altercation shall receive a
game misconduct penalty. In addition, the following (41.2, 41.3, 41.4)
disciplinary penalties shall apply.
...
Automatic Suspension – Category II - Any player who deliberately
applies physical force to an official in any manner (excluding actions
as set out in Category I), which physical force is applied without intent
to injure, or who spits on an official, shall be automatically suspended
for not less than ten (10) games.
Now this all clearly applies to the Carcillo Incident, he made deliberate contact with an official who was attempting to break up an altercation.  There is no question that Carcillo was not attempting to injure Devorski nor did Devorski suffer an injury in the incident.  Do us a favor though and please read through this section of Suggestion 41.5 as it relates to the automatic review process for these types of situations:
Automatic Suspension – Process - Immediately after the game in
which such game misconduct penalty is imposed, the Referees shall,
in consultation with the Linesmen, decide the category of the offense.
They shall make a verbal report to the League’s Director of Hockey
Operations and advise of the category and of the offense. In addition,
they shall file a written report to the Director of Hockey Operations in
which they may request a review as to the adequacy of the
suspension. The NHLPA, the player and the Club involved shall be
notified of the decision of the Referees on the morning following the
game. The League will then hold a conference call with the NHLPA to
review the Referees application of this rule, and will refrain from
issuing public comment affirming the Referees application of Rule 41
until that call is complete.
The player or the officials may request the Commissioner to
review, subject to the provisions of this rule, the penalty imposed by
the Referees. Such request must be filed with the Commissioner in
writing not later than seventy-two (72) hours following notification of
the penalty.
If a review of the incident is requested by either the player or by
the officials, a hearing will be conducted by the Commissioner on an
expedited basis, and best efforts will be used to provide a hearing
before the second game missed by the player due to the automatic
suspension imposed under this rule. The player’s suspension shall
continue pending the outcome of the hearing by the Commissioner.
For Category III offenses only, the Commissioner may conduct the
hearing by telephone. For Category I and II offenses, the hearing shall
be conducted in person.
After any review as called for hereby, the Commissioner shall
issue an order that:
(i) sustaining the minimum suspension, or
(ii) increasing the number of games within the category, or
(iii) changing to a lower category, or
(iv) changing to a lower category and increasing the number of games
within this category, or
(v) in the case of a Category III suspension only, reducing the number of
games of the suspension.
The penalties imposed under this rule shall not be deemed to limit
the right of the Commissioner with respect to any action that he might
otherwise take pursuant to Article 18 of the CBA.
Now where does it say that the official in question who was fouled gets to make the final call on whether or not the player is suspended? We can't seem to find it in this section or in any other part of the NHL Suggestion Book.  Yes, they may "request a review" but in light of the ugly incidents that continue to plague the NHL how in the world can Colin Campbell back the request not to impose the Automatic 10 game suspension in this case?  Daniel Carcillo, like Matt Cooke, is a repeat offender when it comes to dirty play out on the ice and the suspensions that go with them.  Look at the stock photo that TSN chose for Carcillo, Carcillo is the exact type of player that the NHL needs to get rid of if it is serious about growing.

But the worst part of this is not that this was a blown chance by the NHL to show that it is a serious professional sporting league.  No, it is the clear illustration that not only the NHL Front Office has no respect for their own rules, but the on-ice officials who are hired to enforce them have no respect for them either.  This is why the officiating standards from game-to-game are so wildly inconsistent.  This is why hockey has such a bad reputation.  Even little kids know that you can't touch the officials.  But now the NHL has just gone and shown that you can and have it deemed acceptable behavior.

Maybe the NHL would have something about Carcillo if he had "accidentally" smacked Greg Devorski in the head with a chair or a large belt of some kind.  We don't know, but we're sure that in enough time somebody will do something like that and we'll be able to find out.

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