15 November 2007
The league is doing it's best to enhance that image, by not understanding, at all, what it will take to keep players from creating dangerous situations. The media does it's part, both the hockey media AND the general sports media, by only playing up the hits that result in injury and making a fuss when something stupid happens. Everyone remembers the "outrage" of Randy Jones' awkward and dangerous hit on Patrice Bergeron at the beginning of the season.
Exactly how are those hits different? As usual the blogs get it right because there was appropriate reaction in the blogosphere, most vivedly over at Battle of Alberta
It also got a little play on the NHLFanhouse (which i can't find at the moment but that's where I saw it) but it doesn't get nearly the play it deserved. This hit was on "Hockey Night in Canada" for god's sake. A good, but by no means household name, hit one of the leagues best young players, in the back of the neck sending him to the boards head first. This could have been a disaster. The only difference between this hit and the Jones-Bergeron hit is that a) Hemsky got up (slowly) and b) This hit was worse. Hemsky just got luckier than Bergeron.
Yet here's the official punishment for Regehr: boarding - 2 min 0:58 (3rd period), R. Regehr
Are you serious? The league has effectively said "dangerous hits are acceptable as long as the player gets up, but if that player gets hurt we'll suspend you so we can get the Jackel's off of our back." Regehr deserves at least 2 games for this hit, to match Jones punishment. It's time for Colin Campbell to go, he obviously knows nothing about punishment and discipline.
Yet the league will go on, and the Hemskys and Bergerons will continue to get checked into the boards until one day they end up in a wheelchair and the NHL will face yet another public relations nightmare, when it could all be prevented by establishing that these hits are unacceptable, a precedent they are are not willing to take.
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