Volume 93, Issue 92

Thursday, March 23, 2000


Cup Crazy

Penalties just don't stick out

Penalties just don't stick out

Wham! Bam! Slam!

No, these aren't the sounds from an old Batman TV series fight scene – they're the sounds which have been coming out of the National Hockey League in the last little while, as the concept of high sticking has taken on a whole new meaning.

I'm not exactly sure what happened, but when did it become common place for people to nail each other in the head with a hockey stick?

First came the attack Boston Bruin Marty McSorley laid on Vancouver's Donald Brashear, then came the Toronto Maple Leaf's Bryan Berrard eye "accident" and most recently came the headbanging Florida Panther Peter Worrell suffered at the hands of New Jersey's Scott Niedermayer.

Aren't these stick infractions something only gangsters and obscure character's from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are more commonly known for?

Whatever the reason, it's obvious that something has to be done before someone swings their mighty stick and someone else loses their head. It's becoming clear that the solutions – suspensions and monetary fines – just aren't working. These punishments just aren't enough.

The punishments and solutions offered by the NHL when an incident occurs, are reactionary at best and a very short term solution. What the NHL and other hockey leagues across the continent should be doing, is thinking about a long term solution to the problem.

The best approach to such a solution is educating players about the consequences of slamming a stick into another player's head.

At the very least, players may think twice about swinging the big stick around if they know what could potentially happen or how it feels to have a piece of lumber come crashing down on their heads.

The army employs a similar strategy, especially when trying to educate soldiers. For example, they show soldiers pictures of what can happen if, say, they mindlessly walk into a mine field. The hope is to give soldiers a good idea of what can occur, so they'll be more careful and become more educated of potential outcomes.

This, however, is only part of the solution. Suspensions may be fine and dandy for isolated incidents, but the last few weeks have shown this behaviour is becoming more than a sporadic occurrence.

If something isn't done soon we risk having this become an every day event and slowly, but surely, head-whacking could become a two minute minor.

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Copyright The Gazette 2000