Has NHL Become a Frozen Jungle?

Let's begin by looking at the actions of Chris Simon of the New York Islanders. After getting hit from behind by Ryan Hollweg of the New York Rangers during a March 8 game at the Nassau Coliseum, Simon blatantly swung his stick and hit Hollweg square on the chin. Luckily, he only needed a couple of stitches. Shortly afterwards, the league issued Simon a 25+ games suspension, terminating his hockey season.

In my opinion, the NHL got it right. Attacks with the stick can't be brushed aside. It goes without saying this stoked up the rivalry between the two New York clubs. However, since actions like these tarnish the league's image in general, the NHL's senior executive vice-president and director of hockey operations Colin Campbell had to come down hard on Simon.

The second altercation happened more recently during a game between the Dallas Stars and Nashville Predators. After hitting Dallas Superstar Mike Modano, the Preds' Jordin Tootoo turned around and noticed that Stephane Robidas, a Dallas defenseman, was coming to confront him. Without hesitation or restraint, Tootoo proceeded to hit Robidas straight on the kisser, knocking him unconscious.

Some experts called it a sucker punch. I strongly disagree. I do believe Tootoo used inappropriate force, but it's not like Robidas was hit from behind. What's the rule? Always protect yourself. Watching "Million Dollar Baby" three times taught me that much. By coming straight at a man expecting a beating and ignoring that simple rule, Robidas paid a price. Still, Tootoo got a five-game suspension for the gloved punch.

I'll be straight with you. Nobody enjoys a good tilt on skates more than yours truly. And believe me when I tell you that I can't wait for the playoffs to get here to witness greater determination, big hits, and relentless battles for the puck. I do also recognize that, at its root, hockey has always been a very violent sport. However, I'm sick of watching guys leave the ice on stretchers because of questionable behavior.

One thing is good to see through all this. By looking at those two incidents and how the league dealt with them, we can clearly see that guys aren't getting punished for the results of their actions, but for the actions themselves. When all is said and done, it comes down to one very important value — respect. Guys have to respect each other on the ice. If they can't prove themselves to be mature enough, then the league has no choice but to step in and hand out punishment that will dissuade players from crossing the line. Otherwise, this eye for an eye attitude is going to cost a life sooner rather than later.

As passionate sports junkies, we tend to forget about the human side of things. These pros, though they are spectacular well-tuned machines on the ice, are also husbands, fathers, and friends. They need to protect themselves better. They need to protect each other better. Does someone have to die before respect returns to the NHL for good? Colin Campbell can try and stop the bleeding with suspensions all he wants. Fans and experts can talk about it till they are blue in the face. The fact remains that this situation lies in the hands of the players.

Comments and Conversation

March 22, 2007


The Fedoruk incident proves the theory that the N.E Patriots head and neck specialist has hung his hat on. This was Fedoruks second facial injury of the year. Just like Ben Roethlisberger he has had trauma to his jaw joint. The first may have dislodged the meniscus in his jaw joint, leaving him in a bone on bone condition. This will cause a pinching of the nerves, the sensation of seeing stars, dizziness, headache and concussion are all symptoms. The blow to the jaw may have unhinged his other joint, there are two jaw joints. Like Roethlisberger, the more damage, the more susceptible you become. The neuro docs say that your brain is becoming softer and softer, yet not one has ever had any statistics to prove they know how to prevent a concussion. It is one of the biggest injustices in the world today. www.mahercor.com

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