Wednesday, December 9, 2009
You hear it spoken and written about often, by media members and players, and the term is apparently part of the unwritten 'code' that is followed by NHL hockey players. There is a level of so-called 'respect' amongst players that is first and foremost in this code and is not only extended to teammates, but is in place primarily for the opponents. Respect, the code says, keeps the game fair and most importantly protects participants from injury.
Funny, but watching some of these games could lead one to the conclusion that the opposite is true.
The speed of the game has increased dramatically in the past 10 years. The players are bigger and stronger and really give meaning to the phrase 'reckless-abandoned' play. And along with these 'advances', one view shows that the level of seriousness to some of these plays is such that a simple high hit can result in numerous missed games by the recipient as a result of this added speed, size, & strength of the offender. Yet in a day when the 'concussion' seems to be finally taking on the discussions that it deserves, the league looks away and slaps wrists for what should be considered serious penalties. But worse is that players continue to deliver unnecessary punishing hits that are dirty and cheap.
Over the years Minnesota Wild fans have seen a few examples showing that maybe there is not a lot of respect extended to opponents. A few seasons back, Ducks player Brad May sucker-punched Kim Johnsson in the face, which resulted in Johnsson taking a trip to the hospital and a press-box seat for the remainder of that playoff series. And then last season we had the pleasure of seeing Oilers Sheldon Souray pummel Wild defensemen Craig Weller in a fight that featured Souray wearing a plastic guard on his forearm, which he used repeatedly to bash in Weller's face. And most recently we watched the Coyotes Ed Jovanovski take a leaping jump at Andrew Ebbet, planting a forearm and possibly the butt-end of his stick to the face of Ebbett. Sure sounds like there may be a lack of respect. Oh and by the way, May recieved a 10 minute misconduct and match penalty, Souray recieved 5 minutes for fighting, and Jovanvski recieved no penatly but did get suspended for two games. In all instances, the penalties do not fit the crimes.
Most games go by without incident. And the heat of the battle sure could cause on to lose his head. But to talk of this 'code' and the respect players have for one another...I don't buy it.
I almost forgot
It is nights like these that I would gladly trade in the Center Ice package as well as the Sports Pack that I am receiving free, courtesy of DirecTv, because the Wild-Avalanche game is on Versus tonight. And as many of you know, the Comcast owned station is still in a contract squabble with my carrier, DirecTv thus is no longer carried by the satellite provider. I do admit that I like having endless NHL coverage nightly, but my true passion comes not by watching the league as a whole, but instead seeing our Minnesota Wild play.
It just amazes me how second-class the NHL seems to be, starting at the top with Bettman who made the decision to air his product on a second-class station.