Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Can the NHL Change the Culture of Dirty Play by Some NHL Players?

This past playoff season saw many dirty plays by NHL players. Some of those dirty hits involved boarding or hits to an opposing player's head. I will focus on hits to the head and boarding penalties for the purpose of  this discussion. Do I feel that the NHL and Garry Bettman can change the culture of this type of dirty play by NHL players?

To be honest, I'm not sure. If Bettman and league officials believe that it brings in more revenue and don't care about the safety of the players, then it will be impossible to change this culture. In some respects, allowing grown men to fight each other and saying that its part of the game, lends itself to a culture of brutality and violence. I question the NHL's seriosuness to deal with dirt play, becasue back in October of 2011, some NHL GMs were unhappy with Brendan Shanahan dishing out harsh suspensions (See video from 2011 above).

NHL hockey is a violent enough sport. It doesn't need thug players, boarding their opponents or purposely hitting an opponent in their head with a stick or an elbow. That just shouldn't be tolerated. As mentioned in previous posts, it's up to the NHL to set a standard of what they expect and to be consistent when dishing out suspensions.

What would Sportmentary recommend? First off, you need to get tough from the start. There's no need to dish out meaningless suspensions. Get tough right away and send the players a message of what you expect. Be consistent. View all unavoidable headshots and boarding penalties the same way. That way, if a player is careless or dirty, they know what is coming.

By being consistent, the player will know how to model their game. If they don't buy the message they will pay a price. I believe that all first time offenders who hit another player in the head (this does not include unavoidable contact) or is involved in boarding another player (this does not include unavoidable contact), should receive a 10 game suspension.

That may seem tough but that's the point. Any player who becomes a repeat offender should be banned for 30 games for their second infraction. Once again that may seem tough. I don't care. The point is to send a message to thugs who are too dumb to play hockey and are more concerned with being a UFC participant.

I don't want hockey to resemble the UFC. I want hockey to be a competitive game and hard hitting but remain within the rules. For a third offense the player should receive a 85 game ban. If that 85 game ban isn't enough to detract thug play by players like Raffi Torres, then the player should be banned for life on their 4th  infraction.

I think my plan is fair. It gives these morons 4 attempts at trying to play hockey. If these goons want to do something that isn't hockey, they can become wrestlers or join the UFC. That would suit me fine. I just wish that dirty players weren't part of the NHL. Let's deal with these idiots.

Do I think that this tough stance could change the culture of dirty play in the NHL. It might, with time. Like anything, it takes time. At the very least, players who don't change their dirty ways will be banned.

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