Above the Glass
by Samantha on 11/14/12 at 08:43 AM ET
I have the privilege of living in a WHL town and going to a hockey rink several days a week, so I have admittedly lost interest in whether the NHL and NHLPA work it out. But now and again, I can’t help tuning in to see if progress has been made. I’m not sure why; it’s like watching water boil: pointless. It also made me realize that there really aren’t any rules in the NHL Rulebook that punish the league or its unions for not reaching agreement in a timely manner. But what if there were? What if there was a lockout-related version of Rule 48, in which similar penalties are imposed for causing a lockout that threatens to wipe out the regular season? Would it make a difference? Probably not, but that never stops me.
Here is the actual rule, in all its glory: Rule 48 - Illegal Check to the Head
48.1 Illegal Check to the Head – A hit resulting in contact with an opponent's head where the head is targeted and the principal point of contact is not permitted. However, in determining whether such a hit should have been permitted, the circumstances of the hit, including whether the opponent put himself in a vulnerable position immediately prior to or simultaneously with the hit or the head contact on an otherwise legal body check was avoidable, can be considered.
48.2 Minor Penalty - For violation of this rule, a minor penalty shall be assessed.
48.3 Major Penalty - There is no provision for a major penalty for this rule.
48.4 Game Misconduct Penalty – There is no provision for a major penalty for this rule.
48.5 Match Penalty - The Referee, at his discretion, may assess a match penalty if, in his judgment, the player attempted to or deliberately injured his opponent with an illegal check to the head.
If deemed appropriate, supplementary discipline can be applied by the Commissioner at his discretion.
48.6 Fines and Suspensions – Any player who incurs a total of two (2) game misconducts under this rule, in either regular League or playoff games, shall be suspended automatically for the next game his team plays. For each subsequent game misconduct penalty the automatic suspension shall be increased by one game.
If deemed appropriate, supplementary discipline can be applied by the Commissioner at his discretion (refer to Rule 28).
Here’s what the rule would look like in my scenario. The goal of these proposed punishments is to encourage the guilty parties to get real, get organized and get the season back in gear. In my proposal, fans would take the place of referees and serve as the ruling body and chief mediator.
48.B: Illegal Check to the NHL Season. A hit resulting in the cancellation of part or all of the NHL regular season, where fans are disregarded and disrespected. However, in determining whether such a cancellation (or “lockout”) should have been permitted, being so obsessed with salary caps and contract limits that you no longer appreciate the privilege of working in the hockey industry, unwillingness to compromise or concede and impact to employees and staff (e.g. rink staff, concessions staff, etc.) whose livelihoods are affected by the lockout may be considered.
48.C: Minor Penalty. A minor penalty shall be assessed to all players, owners and NHL execs who fail to actively seek a realistic solution to their differences (“informal lunches” do not count as “actively seeking resolution”). This penalty shall last for a minimum of 48 hours as an “early warning” to these individuals. During this time, they will be required to live on the salary of working class people, fly coach, leave the “office” every night without a single person asking for their autograph or game used stick, and zero fans waiting to shower them with attention and love at the end of each game. In short, they will be forced to live like ordinary, humble, anonymous human beings, until they promise in writing to get real, go back to the bargaining table and reach agreement.
48.D: Match penalty. May be assessed at the discretion of fans if it’s obvious the two warring factions are still not attempting to work it out (even after the above warning) and conducting meetings just for show, or are simply playing a long, drawn out game of chicken in which neither is willing to flinch. Guilty parties shall be forced to live like mere mortals (as noted above) for the duration of a full regular season.
Supplemental discipline shall be imposed by fans at their discretion as follows:
Financial Discipline: In accordance with standard business practices whereby a company uses coupons, discounts or other specials to lure customers back and entice them to go back to purchasing their products.*
- NHL Center Ice Free with your basic cable service for the full duration of the next regular season.
- 75 percent discount on all NHL merchandise for the full duration of the next regular season.
- Free general admission for all fans to their local home team’s season opener at the start of the next regular season and a 75 percent discount on tickets to all subsequent games for the remainder of that season.
- Free tickets for burned Winter Classic ticket holders for the next three seasons, including first class travel and accommodations at the league’s expense.
Rehab program. Mandatory attendance in an eight week CBA negotiating rehab program, whereby stakeholders will learn behavioral modification techniques and effective bargaining techniques to be carried forward in all future CBA negotiations. Upon completion of this program, all attendees will sign a binding agreement that if they do not abide by the program, fans can deny them the right to participate in future CBA negotiations.
Real job search. For players or others who complain or argue over contract length, supplemental discipline shall take the form of searching for a real job with no contractual guarantees and no free agency frenzy where you can go get hired by a better-paying employer. This can include but not be limited to, standing in a long line with 100 other people to apply for two open positions, and/or getting paid a sub-par salary with no dental coverage at a job where you will be lorded over by a boss who will regularly take credit for your work and generally do anything he or she can to prevent you from advancing to better job opportunities.
*Yes I know this one is counterintuitive, since revenue is a big part of the CBA, but since they had no trouble losing revenue these past few months, plus Winter Classic, they shouldn't have any trouble parting with a few pennies to win back the hearts and minds of fans.
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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.
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