As some (many?!) of you know I'm a big hockey fan. There's been a spell of dirty hits of late-- some which have resulted in punishment others which have not.
I have an almost zero tolerance for this kind of violence. Hockey is already a violent sport but even many of the more violent players at least confront one another by dropping their gloves and facing each other. Taking out players from behind is cowardly and shows a complete lack of discipline and class. I feel so strongly about this that the Detroit Red Wings are now one of my FORMER favorite teams. Why? Because they signed Todd Bertuzzi. Bertuzzi should not be in the NHL. A few years ago with the Vancouver Canucks he leveled Steve Moore from behind, paralyzing him and ending his career. Bertuzzi was suspended for the remainder of that season. The Red Wings signed Bertuzzi at one point and let him go only to resign him this past summer. He has no place in hockey as far as I'm concerned and it thoroughly annoys me that the Red Wings are overlooking his blatant and cowardly attack on Steve Moore.
I'm a Penguins fan-- so I'm especially peeved by the hit on the Boston Bruins Marc Savard by the Penguins Matt Cooke. I'm hoping that at the end of the season Cooke gets his walking papers.
This past Sunday Alexander Ovechkin, one of the most talented players in the NHL blindsided the Blackhawks Brian Campbell breaking his collarbone and a few of his ribs. He received a 5 minute major and a game misconduct (resulting in automatic ejection from the game) and a 2 game suspension (with forfeiture of pay).
For a first offense, I think 2 games is almost fair, but Ovechkin is a repeat offender-- this is NOT the first time he's blindsided a player-- heck he did it to Jaromir Jagr (of the Czech Republic) during the Olympics and actually got away with it because Jagr wasn't injured (or at least not seriously so).
And last night James Wisniewski leveled Brent Seabrook of the Chicago Blackhawks... Seabrook didn't even have the puck at the time of the hit. Wisniewski, like Ovechkin, is a repeat offender. His last infraction was last November.
The NHL needs to be stricter and more consistent in their enforcement of the rules and in the punishments handed down for infractions of those rules-- especially when the intent to injure is blatant and obvious. The lack of consistency is leading to a "wild west" style of on ice justice where there are retaliatory strikes ON the ice often because of players going unpunished off the ice for previous infractions. What makes this even more self-perpetuating is that many of these retaliatory strikes are against OTHER players on the team of the offending player-- players that had nothing to do with the dirty hit in the first place. It's even seeped down to sportswriters calling for retaliatory strikes. For example-- for tonight's Boston/Pittsburgh game many sportswriters in Boston are calling for the Bruins to attack Penguins star and captain, Sidney Crosby in retaliation for his teammate, Matt Cooke's hit on Marc Savard that went unpunished by the league... How does that make any sense? Attacking Crosby will only serve to perpetuate this chain of unnecessary violence.
*edit in* Cooke dropped his gloves and took a beating in tonight's game. Penguins won 3-0.
Also Wisniewski was suspended for 8 games for his hit on Brent Seabrook. The reason for the stiff penalty given by the league was that Seabrook did not have the puck at the time of the hit, Wisniewski left his feet (leaping for more/force weight on the hit), and Wisniewski is a repeat offender. This still leaves me scratching my head though-- Alexander Ovechkin also showed intent to injure, also left his feet, and also is a repeat offender but he only received 2 games suspension. Was/is this due to Ovie's "hardware" (a Hart trophy or two for being the league MVP?) If Wisniewski were a better star/bigger name would he have received a lesser suspension? If Ovechkin were less of a star/less of a marquee player would he have received a greater suspension?