Sidney Rosby: Man. Superstar. (C)aptain. Inadvertent Leader?
So before I get going here, it had been speculated that Sid the Kid may boycott the NHL All-Star Game in protest of the NHL's treatment of players victimized by head shots. He later said that this was in no way affecting his decision to not go, backed up by the fact that he hasn't even returned to real actual NHL games after the break. So no, he didn't boycott it to make a point. But if he had?
I think Sidney the Kidney(TM John Keating) had a chance to make a real positive impact on the game, and still may. We all can agree that the NHL's take on disciplinary action is a complete joke. Victimized players are not all given the same compassion or equality, per Colin Campbell's crazy maddening temper and hatred for all people who don't allow his son to skate along freely and untouched. Suspensions are handed out, seemingly, based more on media reaction and “how bad it looked,” as opposed to the dangers involved in the incident. Crosby's hit to the head wasn't anything special, but it's the issue he's drawing attention to that is important. I, unlike Rosby, don't think Steckel needs to be suspended, but I'm more interested in the bigger picture and the approach to a greater problem at hand, and plan to use Sid's example as my ammo.
Hitting a player from behind and sending him to the dasher doesn't always break his jaw, nose, cheekbone, orbital bone and give him a concussion, but it has potential to do not only that but much, much worse. It's a dangerous play and even if it's Tomas Holmstrom who's the one being hit (whom I've recently learned does NOT in fact have bones made of rubber) it needs to be addressed as an act of stupidity and a harsh suspension should follow. Same for blindside hits to the head, as in the one Brad Stuart suffered.
And how best to get the message across? Of course, you could wait until someone dies or gets seriously hurt, like my Industry does. “Rules written in blood” we call them.
You could have the man the league and the media have anointed as the “face of the league” act on behalf of the players and draw attention to it. It seems that whatever Sid the Kid wants, Sid the Kid gets. He is, whether we love or hate him, the most well-followed, written of and influential player in the league. And this is everyone's battle. Never thought I'd say this but he's a great guy to have on your team, in this context. God, that was gross to write.
Much like Team Canada fans who are also Rosby haters had to deal with last February, I support him as long as the results come in positive. And the results we're after are all pretty clear to me. Use your influence and your power over the docile masses to convey an imperative message in this sport. Unnecessary, gratuitous blindside shots to the head are absolutely no tolerance behaviors. Any shot to the head is worth taking a serious look at, but if a player has no defenses available, then serious repercussions should follow.
The only way to make the league understand this is to have their favourite son affected by it and speak out against it, as crazy as that sounds. But as a man of the Mining Industry, I understand that sometimes that's the only way changes and progress are made. Wait until someone important gets hurt.
Awful, yes, but if the league hasn't figured out how to handle head shots to this point then it's only logical to assume they never will. But now there's a new character with a much bigger role than anyone else could have played. Rosby, like it or not, is inadvertently cast as the leader of the next big improvement to the game: taking care of our players' brains.
I don't feel to happy about having to write something along the lines of let's all get behind Sid on this one, but I feel it's necessary in the worst possible way. Head shots are a dire concern for me and the best way to change the culture of the game is through him.
I hope to Bog that this support of Sid has no alternative, unseen affects on me. Although, come to think of it now, I have a strange urge to punch someone whose arms are tied up in the balls from behind.