Player safety? No, silly. When a player gets his brains scrambled, the NHL gets a rivalry. Rivalries are easy to promote and things that are easy to promote bring in big bucks. The NHL loves and needs big bucks.
So what makes Bettman, Shanahan and the rest of the NHL front office slugs nervous?
When Savard got rocked by Matt Cooke, there were some angry fans out there that wanted Cooke suspended. There were also some media outlets that were disgusted by the hit and the lack of a suspension that followed. However, there were still people out there saying that Savard should have kept his head up. He was "caught admiring his pass." So it was perfectly okay to end his career, you see?
Even when rule 48 was introduced, guys were still getting away with it half the time. "Star player blind-sided who? Never heard of him. Tell him to keep his head up."
And then this happened:
Now, my Crosby-hating eyes told me that this was a complete accident and that no discipline should come from the incident. And none did. But then he took another hit the next game and he was history. Cue the media:
"Do something, NHL!" You know why the Penguins can lose a game 5-1 and the headline is "Crosby Records Assist in Loss"? Because his name gets clicks. We don't click because we can't stand that crap, but a lot of people do. They can't get enough of Crosby. The NHL doesn't give a crap about Crosby the person. He just makes their job so much easier.
So last summer the NHL declared war on head shots. No matter who made the hit, any shot to the head received a huge fine and a long suspension. And the media?
"The NHL is serious about player safety!" And the NHL ran with it, giving out suspensions with the same pride and joy that a dog gets when it brings its master the newspaper and getting a pat on the head. "Good NHL. That's a good NHL."
Then last week happened. The master came home and found that his once loyal pet had chewed up the couch and took a crap on his bed. Of course the dog still tried to greet its master with the same dorky grin as if he was supposed to chew up the couch and crap on his bed. "Bad dog! What did you do!?"
Have I killed this analogy yet?
When Weber smashed Zetterberg's face into the glass, the NHL thought it had a gold mine. They didn't see the dirtiest, most suspendable play of the season. They saw a headline. A rivalry that would meet 6 times a year. To hell with Zetterberg. To hell with the optics of it all. And better yet, a southern market was suddenly into hockey. Nevermind that it was because of a dirty play that has no place in any sport. They're going to buy the hell out of some playoff tickets! So Weber got away with it. Luckily, the Wings won the game that he shouldn't have been playing in, so the NHL's failure did not cost the Red Wings a win. But it cost the NHL something.
Credibility. There are 4 people on planet earth that think Weber got punished enough. Gary Bettman, Brendan Shanahan, Don Cherry and some dumb chick who comments on a Predators blog. That's it. Mike Milbury is appalled by the NHL. Mike Milbury. That's the same guy who climbed into the stands and beat a fan with a shoe. The same guy who has been accused of assaulting a kid at a pee-wee hockey game. Mike Milbury. Bloggers and beat writers from rival markets are calling out the NHL for their failure to suspend. No one, outside of those 4 idiots, think they did the right thing.
So fast forward a couple of days and you'll see Carl Hagelin, a rookie from Sweden, hit Daniel Alfredsson up high with a check. He got 5 minutes for the hit and Twitter erupted with "$2,500" jokes, but no one thought he'd actually get much for it. Maybe one game. After all, it wasn't nearly as bad as what Weber did.
Shanahan handed out 3 games for that hit. This was his attempt to save face. This was Shanahan standing outside Mike Milbury's window with a boom box over his head while blaring "In Your Eyes". But it was too late. Giving 3 games for that hit while ignoring Weber's actions were clearly seen as an attempt to save face. No one is buying it. The NHL is a joke and everyone but the 4 people mentioned before know it.
Letting Weber get away with his assault on Zetterberg did not cause Asham to go after Schenn. He was going to do that anyways. Carkner was going to go after Boyle. Neal was going to lose his mind and head-hunt anything in orange. But the NHL did make a joke of itself that it will not recover from. Maybe ever. "Hope he's got $2,500 in his account after that hit." Get used to that joke because it will be used heavily. Then Shanahan gave Carkner 1 game for sucker punching Boyle 7 times. 1 game. Good luck explaining that one.
I still love hockey, but I really hate the NHL. Unfortunately, until we get Bettman's dirty paws off of our sport, this problem will persist. Unless the NHL is run by someone who cares about player safety and fans (in that order), this league won't get any better.
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Firstly, great piece of writing Ryan. Shanahan tying to save face by suspending a player who did something of a lesser degree for 3 games makes no sense. It's the same thing that we see all the time when a lineman fucks up and "owes" the other team a penalty. It doesn't take a child to see that this isn't the way shit works. That may work with say the Police/Media relationship, i.e. A murderer walks free so the police arrest several suspects to ensure the people they are safe, but it certainly doesn't work here. Let's face it, most of us have a brain stem and aren't going to be all relieved and happy that Shanny dumped a 3 game suspension on a player form another team who did some silly shit to another player from another team. Don't think you get it there Shanny, but although that incident was unfortunate, it had abso-fucking-lutely nothing to do with Detroit, or the Weber attack. I doubt you read this blog Shanahan, but here is the point we are getting at: You failed to act appropriately in your position of office, and the Wings fans will never forget it. When most of us do that in our jobs, we get fired faster than shit, and all it takes is one person to notice, not thousands. Although Weber's spectacular explanation of, "Well it's a fast game", implying that his obvious, voluntary assault on another player was akin to simple roughing is ridiculous, and so are you. Weber could've even been honest and said that in the heat of the moment he got caught up and decided to bash Zetterberg's head. We'd still be pissed at him, but I can respect wanting to smash your rivals head in, even though I cannot condone doing it on national fucking television with too many witnesses for a jury box. You know what they call "heat of the moment" in the Criminal Justice business? That's right, "crime of passion", and whether it was passionate or simply cruel, it's still a fucking crime dipshit. I agree, we have ALL lost a lot of respect for the NHL. I'm really trying to think of ways to hurt the NHL, without hurting my team, but I don't know if that is possible.
I was reading an article on the Yahoo Sports page, and they were talking about Shanahan. There was a particular excerpt that stood out to me right away.
"The playoffs evolve. The game evolves. I have to try and keep evolving with them. It's not like the regular season where every team has 82 games to play, and there's equal footing. They change depending on the score of the series or how many games are left in the series."
I don't know, maybe I'm reading too much into that statement, but that sounds like a pretty flimsy excuse for his inconsistency. It also seems that he's saying "I'm just making this up as I go. Whoever is the current favorite will be spared."
Yeah exactly. His speech of "evolution" is a diversion of what he is really saying. Replace "the game" with "I". He has to evolve and change his moral compass, or his ass will be out of the corrupt office it occupies.
Screw Shanny. Screw Bettman. Screw anyone who thinks that bullshit fine was ENOUGH PUNISHMENT BECAUSE IT WAS A RETALIATORY PLAY! For what? Even if Zetterberg had boarded Weber, why wouldn't Weber just wait until the next game & rock him then? Weber's actions had NOTHING to do with hockey. He's just an asshole. I hope the boys look at all the bullshit going down & get pissed & use that anger against Nashville. And by using that anger, I mean turn into the Terminators they can be & coldly, methodically dismantle Weber et al.
The RETALIATORY PLAY excuse is why we have so many issues with morons wanting to fight after perfectly legit checks & all this bullshit going on after the whistle. It's fucking ridiculous & the fact that Shanny lost his balls somewhere in Bettman & the GMs pockets makes me angry.
Injuries should have zero to do with what punishment is doled out. Especially when with head shots where symptoms may not manifest immediately.
This flip-the-coin mentality of meting out suspensions is seriously ruining hockey. FOADIAF, Shanny. Hell, I'm still pissed about Boy Wonder's punishment from preseason (yes, I really can hold onto a grudge). /rant
I think we all know what really happened. Shanhan was digging through the closet in the Player Safety office and found Campbell's old wheel of justice and found it much easier to use then logic and reasoning.
Blaming Bettman and the office is only partially accurate. He answers to the owners, and let's face it; the NHL is a business for the owners, and they are in it to make money. If they can make money, that is really all that matters, and they made Bettman the commissioner so that he could help them make money. As long as fans continue to pour money into the NHL and its teams, that is all that matters to the owners. As long as Bettman is the commissioner, I have full faith that this garbage will continue unabated. We can scream "Fire Bettman" all we want, but the only way to bring this about and effect real change is to cut off the cash supply to the owners, because that is the only way that the owners (Mr. I included) will listen to us fans. This same principle applies to virtually every business. It is for this reason that I cannot in any way, shape, or form financially support the Red Wings or the NHL, regardless of how much I love Red Wings. I would urge fans of every team to do the same if they are truly fed up with this farce of a league.
I wondered what would happen after the NHL let Weber walk. Now, it's hard to say if that had any impact on the rather violent, and in some cases violently awesome, postseason we've seen.
But after being reassured that the hard line was going to be rule and punishments would swift, it appears Colin Campbell's spinwheel board of punishment is back.
I have no idea how Carkner gets only 1 game. That was an assault.
I don't think the result (injury or not) should be even a minor part of the discipline process. I knew a kid who was trying to do a wheelie on a crotch rocket at 110mph, lost it, hit a telephone pole in mid=flight, and walked away with some bruises. Does that make his action intelligent? I mean, he didn't get hurt, right?
To reverse engineer NHL logic, shouldn't Radulov get a 10-game suspension for injuring Helm's wrist? His leg was moving upward in a kicking motion at the time.
Frankly, people can get hurt severely from accidents and not get hurt from the most violent and heinous acts. The paradigm for supplemental discipline, in my mind, should be: 1) Was it illegal? 2) Was it likely intentional / was the intent to injure? 3) How close was it to an actual "hockey play?" 4) Was the act dangerous in the sense that it was likely to cause injury? 5) The average person test. Would the average person with a basic knowledge of hockey rules see this as meriting supplemental discipline?
The supplemental discipline should scale based on the responses to those questions above. If it did, Hagelin would have been looking at $2500 to 1-game, and Weber would have been 3-5 games. And I believe that is how it should be.
@ThroatShot Couldn't agree more, the system is not a system at all, it's a random stream of nonsensical bullshit.
Barry Melrose also said today on ESPN that he agrees with the non-suspension saying that it "was a retaliation play" so it was just fine.
Also can anyone tell me what was up with the lightsabres on Sunday? They were cool for the intro and everything but had no use after that. I missed the towels...
@OctoWing figures. but that's barry melrose. he's always against the wings. i take the opinions of "idiot preds fan #7438" more serious than anything melrose says.
I think your conspiracy might be a little out there. If Weber get's suspended you can still sell a rivalry. Weber misses one game then comes back for game 3 and Bert would fight him then. I think you might be reaching a little.
Maybe it says something about the maturity of us, but me and most of my internet "fake friends" (TM Herm) have described pooping in one way or another when making an anal-ogous argument to "player safety and suspensions" this postseason.
Here's mine to my non-hockey-watching-friends: 'If you have a guy raised by wolves living in your house, you expect him to be wild, but you need to let him know certain behavoirs won't be tolerated, regardless of result. So to say no injury happened and that it's okay is like letting him sink his teeth into your mother's arse when she visits and, based on her injuries, either throwing the book at him or just awkwardly ignoring it and hope everyone moves on. Same for catching him squatted in a corner ready to shit on your favourite J. Giels Band record. You need to punish the behavior, not the result. "You stop that!" is not a good enough deterrent just because he didn't actually lay cable on your most prized possession. It's an unacceptable behavior and you need to look yourself in the eye when things progressively get worse after that (which, in the case of Shittsburgh, they did. They really, really did get worse).'
And I totally 110% agree with you that they Philly/Pit debacle wasn't a result of the Weber hit, that's insane and people who think that way put way too much significance on what happens to people wearing the Winged Wheel. It's not quite as bad as saying "If Claude Lemieux never hits Kris Draper, 9/11 never happens" but they're both linking behaviors where there is no link.
Boy is Bettman persistant in screwing up everything he touches. The NHL has turned into a big puppet show with him pulling all the strings, it's sickening to keep watching as these acts of injustice are carried out and left unpunished. If they're going to call some, why not call all? Right now, the NBA seems more righteous than the NHL. I may wind up just watching score updates on the computer because I can't stand the Nashville gushing that's being promoted on the NHL/NBC/SUCK Networks, I'm about ready to upchuck.
Also, I'm looking into becoming the NHL's first woman commissioner. I don't think it requires much since Bettman got the job (and still has it). If I don't make it in, I will back ANYONE (OR ANYTHING BREATHING) to violently take over Bettman's current position.
@TheFrozenOctopus The reason Bettman got the job was because of his financial background and running the NBA. Nothing to do with the sport specifically.
Demon hobbit, I curse thee for ruining the sport that was all holy. I curse thee to the furthests depths of ESPN forever to be ignored. I curse thee to have cheese graters covered with tabascco sauce to be raked across thine back 'til your blood burns in thine own little demon veins.
I'll just have to run the NBA first then.....
Great blog! Very well said. Sadly, I dont see any changes on the horizon. The owners just gave him a 5 year contract extension, if im not mistaken, so apparently his mismanagement of the league is not very concerning to them. Hockey is a niche sport in this country and Im fine with that. I actually prefer it that way because it makes for more passionate and educated fans. Bettman's entire career as commish has been revolving around trying to make it bigger because he thinks that means better. I detest that evil little man...
The only thing that will make me feel better at this point is the Wings knocking those hillbillys out so that all their FA's make a run for it on July 1st
I hope the Wings win the next 3, and then the preds lose Suter and Radulov to free agency.