Above the Glass
by Samantha on 03/11/11 at 01:00 PM ET
So, to keep track; Pavel Kubina’s down for three games because he wonked Dave Bolland with an elbow, Zdeno Chara’s right back in the game for totally crushing Max Pacioretty and Sidney Crosby is in limbo for an unpenalized wonk to this upper body. Refresh me, when and how exactly does Rule 48.1 apply? Wait, don’t answer that. I’ve got it. I have a better idea. Hockey is a simple game, so I propose a simple solution to this most complicated of issues: make the punishment fit the crime.
Whatever you do, don’t try flying the friendly Canadian skies: Gary Bettman has more or less told Air Canada that if they withdraw their sponsorship, they could find themselves without a huge chunk of NHL customers. Neither threat is going to work. Have you ever flown Air Canada? It’s one of the best airlines in the world: no NHL team that wants to keep its superstars happy is going to settle for second best just because Gary Bettman told them they should. Also, it’s the primary air carrier in Canada, thereby making it darn near impossible to get in an out of said country without using them. Good luck with that.
Or, when the NHL doesn’t deliver justice, you can always try this: Montreal authorities are considering criminal charges against Chara. I believe this was tried once before in the Patrice Cormier hit on Mikael Tam in the QMJHL. That didn’t work, although Cormier was suspended for the remainder of his season and he ended up getting traded to Atlanta as part of the Kovalchuk trade, so what goes around comes around.
Plus, there’s this: Rule 48.1 is very specific to targeted, and supposedly obvious, hits right to the head. But what happens if the head is collateral damage in a hit to the neck? What if the player goes for more than the head, as Zdeno Chara did when he laid down that hit. Then what?
I sort of get this, but not really: In both the Crosby and Pacioretty hits, the offending players claimed they didn’t see their victims. Now, in Chara’s case, I can sort of understand it. He’s 6’9”. He probably doesn’t see a lot of people. But the dude he hit in this case was right next to him, they were both racing for the puck…a blind person could have seen Pacioretty.
I’m officially confused, and therefore I propose my own rule for this most tangled of webs: I’ve written about this before, and you can read all about my evil plan here.
In short, it goes like this: If you bump a guy’s noggin, even if you get suspended, eventually you come back. Trouble is, the guy you whacked doesn’t, because he can’t. So I say make the punishment fit the crime. If you wonk a dude’s noggin hard enough to take him out for the season or longer, then you are suspended for the same amount of time it takes him to recover and return to the game. And if he has to retire because of your antics, then you better brush up on your golf game, because in my book you’d be toast. Hits to the head are the mother of all cheap shots. They are not clean, they are not necessary and they are not cool, dudes. Smart players who were good enough to make it into the starting lineup of an NHL team can and should find a better way to deal with their opponents.
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About Above the Glass
Welcome to Above the Glass, a definitive anti-expert’s guide to hockey. I started blogging in 2009 as part of an effort to learn all 87 rules in the NHL Rulebook in 107 days before the 2010 Olympics, 30 years after I discovered the sport. You can peruse the archival results here. Growing up in Arizona, I didn’t even know hockey existed until February 22, 1980, when the USA played Russia in the Olympics. And just like that, the game of the century changed my life. I still don’t quite understand the icing rule or which faceoff circle goes with what offense, but I do know that every aspect of hockey has something to teach us about life. That’s what you’ll find here, along with my unadulterated passion for the game.
I live in Portland, Oregon, home of the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks. I invite anyone who wants to know more about hockey in the Rose City to visit here, where I blog exclusively about the Winterhawks. I’ll post an occasional musing about the Hawks, the WHL and junior hockey here as well.
Follow me on Twitter: @AbovetheGlass