| League taking a
Making an example of Joe Thornton
|11/5/10 - By David Towers -
I would like to start off by saying that the coming
words you are about to read are not intended as a defense of the NHL policy
& decision makers. Rather I simply want to try and understand what it is
that we are all responding to. I am curious about the 'why?' in this situation
and want to find answers to it.
The first thing we have to do is
ignore the past. I see countless people discussing the Willie Mitchell on
Jonathan Toews hit of last year and using it as their basis for making a
decision on the league's ruling of Joe Thornton today. This type of strategy
will always lead to further misconception rather than actual understanding
since those people are trying to find common ground with an event that had
different under lying rules associated with it. Leave the past in the past and
let's focus on where we are heading in the future.
The NHL is taking a
stand on shots to the head. Yes, they came out with a definition on what
constitutes an 'illegal' hit to the head but we can safely assume that the
application of justice in any instance, having any type of hit to the head
associated with it, will have inconsistent results. Why? Because the main
reason that the NHL is now focusing on this issue is due to the heavy amount of
permanent brain damage that these hits cause.
This is an undeniable
health and image issue for the league. They finally got the message after the
Matt Cooke hit on Marc Savard. Sending any player, let alone super star players
to hospital beds and possible early retirement in no way helps the game. The
league finally gets that. We have to applaud them for this because technically,
we will no longer have fans who are up in arms crying foul when such offending
actions are committed.
I am still seething over the Raffi Torres hit
on Milan Michalek several years back and I wish the league would have had it's
head screwed on straight back then. All good things to those who wait I guess.
With a player's future health being the main item that they are trying to
defend in these cases, the lines will be blurred when we see the league apply
justice for such faults.
There is no arguing that Joe Thornton is not
a dirty player. There is also no arguing that Joe Thornton and David Perron
have a serious height mismatch which sets the stage for funny and poignant
comments such as: "
should Joe bend down to hit the guy
" and those
points are all valid. At the end of the day though, the league is looking to
eliminate shots to the head and especially now, at this early stage of applying
the rules, where do you think their focus is?
Is the league looking to send a message to the players
or are they getting into the minute details of every instance? I would put
money on the former.
Additionally, what better way to send a message to
the rest of the league when you can lay a suspension down on a big name player
like Joe Thornton? The league understands the value of making a big statement.
The NHL is not fair and it will likely remain consistently
in-consistent both in their on and off-ice rulings. It is our job as fans
however to better understand the details of a certain climate within which
these rules are applied and the current climate is focused on eliminating any
type of shot to the head and this is why we are seeing an improper application
of justice in this instance.
It seems as though the existing game
misconduct should have been enough punishment for Joe Thornton and if not,
perhaps at most a one game suspension, definitely not two. Clarity will not be
a friend to us during these times.
No hits to the head are acceptable
and in the early stages of applying this new law, there will be many
casualties. Joe Thornton is not the first and he will likely not be the last.
|What did you think of
this article? Post your comments on the Feeder Forums