NHL Player Safety might want to, y'know, protect the players fans pay to watch.
An article written by Steve Simmons last week states that he feels that Brendan Shanahan got the penalties for the Leafs and Sabres right. He couldn’t be so wrong.
To quote him, “There will be no argument with the rulings, and maybe a touch of congratulation for taking a difficult hockey situation and bringing sound interpretive perspective to it.”
It is the same old same old that has been going on there is not a thing to be happy or satisfied with in his Shanahan’s handing out of fines and suspensions.
Even Mr. Simmons admits to it in the following sentence, “The sad part of the Sabres-Leafs affair is that the main perpetrator, the giant bush leaguer without talent named John Scott came away, for a lack of a better term, scot-free.”
He justifies the NHL’s action of not supplying a suspension to John Scott because he didn’t break any written rules. He did his job. He did what his coach wanted him to do. He chose to turn off his brain and let stupidity take over. He instigated a fight with Phil Kessel who had no intention to fight.
Why fight Kessel? Kessel had nothing to do with Corey Tropp getting hurt in the scrap that triggered all this nonsense. Scott got his in game penalties but that is all we are to believe that the league could do to him.
“There will be no out-of-nowhere attacks on skilled players permitted. The mighty department of safety has spoken here without saying what it really had in mind. It didn’t have to.”
The league said nothing. Does Mr. Simmons believe that another John Scott-clone will not attack another skilled player in such a manner again because his coach will get fined?
The article goes on to detail Toronto’s losses, David Clarkson for 10 games and Kessel for the final three pre-season games for his stick work. Clarkson was just as dumb as Scott because he too turned off his brain and jumped off the bench, he deserves his suspension. Some other comments from Leaf players would have you believe that the bag skates that Kessel will have to endure are severe punishment. Phil escaped without a longer suspension because Scott didn’t get suspended and he didn’t injure Scott. This decision was based on all the wrong reasons.
Players are told that they have to be responsible for their equipment. Zack Kassian got suspended a few days earlier because he was reckless with his stick. Kessel was in control of his but was doing reckless things with it.
Players are told that they have to be responsible for their bodies. There are rules about running goalies so players don’t do it. They cannot go after the knees of another player either. Last year, people wanted Cooke to be suspended because they felt he was reckless with his skates and caused Erik Karlsson’s injury. What most people forget is that players have to be (or should have to be) responsible for their intentions too.
Watch and listen to John Scott had to say. I was just doing my job.
“I would have went after whoever they put up line next to me”, he admits that he had no intentions to play hockey. He chose to not to assess the situation. He didn’t care. There was no respect. If he lined up against Marc Savard, Manny Malholtra or Max Pacioretty it wouldn’t have mattered. He wanted a pound of flesh.
“I was just doing my job”. Really? His job is to beat up on skill players. What a great resume he must have.
“I wasn’t going to try and hurt him”. No one ever gets hurt in a beating, except for the guy doing all the hitting. His knuckles will hurt. The reason why he’s going after Kessel is because his teammate got hurt in a fight. So who is kidding who?
“I was just trying to send a message”. Yeah the message was loud and clear. He wasn’t interested in anything else other than hurting someone with his fists.
“Their coach didn’t have to put you know Kessel out with me. He knew what was gonna happen”. That is exactly why Randy Carlyle put out Kessel on the ice so cooler heads would prevail. How foolish he was.
What are we to think going forward, that whenever Scott is on the ice that it is now time for a fight?
“Phil came out the better end of it. I’m bruised all over my legs”. You know his legs wouldn’t hurt at all if he didn’t pursue instigating a fight.
Shanahan see’s nothing in those comments where he can send a clear message to all other wannabes with a stiff 15 or 20 game suspension to Scott? Whoa, why so much and how do I justify it?
Watch this clip, what the NHL wants to avoid.
Replace “Todd Bertuzzi” with “John Scott”. Replace “Steve Moore” with “Phil Kessel”. Where the two incidents differ is in motive. Steve Moore hit Markus Naslund earlier in the game with a bad hit. He was targeted by many Vancouver players as the game progressed. Phil Kessel did nothing to warrant an attack. It is obvious where the two incidents differ in the result. Moore’s life has changed completely because of that stupid play and Kessel is going to be working hard at practice.
Where the two incidents are the same is that one player had no intention to fight where his opponent didn’t care and was going to do anything to make it happen.
They wanted to send a message. They didn’t mean to hurt anyone. They were just listening to their coach. They were just doing their job.
Does a star player have to get hurt as badly or worse than Moore for the Department of Player Safety to act? Well the Players Association would petition that so many games would be excessive.
Does the NHLPA want Kessel to be eating his food out of a straw in his contract year? Do they want to see him be suspended for 10 or more games because he swung his stick and it cut Scott’s Achilles tendon? Kessel’s next contract will help other players justify salary raises. He helps raise all their salaries. How many players will be served better by John Scott’s contract? Two things that the NHLPA should be very involved in, players making as much as possible and be as healthy as possible. What good is it to be retired and unable to play with your kids because of a sucker punch? What good is it to get your money from disability payments instead of earning your contract?
Call it intent to injure or unsportsmanlike behavior. Find any justification to protect the players from this poor stereotypical mentality. Here is a clip of an old fight that you might remember, Savard vs. Leeman.
I use this clip to illustrate a few things. First, David Manson gets a 13 game suspension for coming back onto the ice surface after being barely removed from it and for bumping a linesman because he “feels” that he has to stick up for Dennis Savard. Like he really needed to. Couldn’t Shanahan say that based on John Scott’s actions and comments that he had already predetermined that he was going to be sent to the dressing room? He was already off the ice mentally.
Second, John Kordic was smart by staying on the bench and even kept Wendel Clark from going on the ice. Here was a goon who at least that one time was using his brain. Clarkson should take a lesson from that.
Lastly, even though Savard and Leeman danced around more than fight, they both were willing and able.
One guy sought it just as much as the next guy. They got under each other’s skin and they had enough.
This wasn’t a premeditate match or a statement fight, it was born from frustration. This is the kind of fisticuffs that the rules are intended for. This was not what Scott had in mind, unless he felt he was David Manson reincarnate.
Steve Simmons ends his column by saying, “Pretty embarrassing for him. Pretty embarrassing for hockey. Embarrassing enough for Shanahan to determine that the only plausible justice arrived without sticking to the letter of the law.”
What would be embarrassing would be to have another Moore-Bertuzzi incident occur. The message is clear, the NHL and players like John Scott haven’t learned from the past. If Brendan Shanahan was not going to stick to the letter of the law then he should have broken it completely and handed out a much stiffer penalty to the person who caused the mess.
Let the skilled players know that he’s got their back.