NHL: Negligence or Intentional?

Posted: 10/13/2010 by bc in Uncategorized

Mike Harrington of Sabres Edge asks the question that begs the morning after Colin Campbell suspended Chicago’s Niklas Hjalmarsson 2 games for the blind side hit on Jason Pominville.

Did anyone in the league office check the schedule? Hjalmarsson sits two games, so when does he get back? Saturday night in the United Center. Against the Sabres. So is the league giving Buffalo carte blanche to create mayhem in retaliation?

Harrington doubts it. Harrington would call it negligent.

I don’t know if it is or not. Certainly the more buzz created surrounding the Saturday night game at the United Center the better for the league, the Blackhawks and the Sabres.

Certainly, as Harrington points out, “The Sabres and Hawks won’t play for at least another year, perhaps longer. You make it a three-game ban and you basically cut way back on the mayhem potential Saturday.”

What mayhem potential? Will a Sabre blind side Toews or Kane? What happens to Hjalmarsson during the game?

Jon Vogl of The Buffalo News, posting on the same blog quotes Sabres Patrick Kaleta, “It’ll get taken care of either with the league,” Kaleta said this afternoon before the decision was handed down, “or I think we play them Saturday, so we’ll make a point that you can’t be taking hits like that against one of our leaders and one of the better players on our team.”

You can view the hit here.

This is a situation where even a D average law student from a mediocre law school could drive a truck through. If a player gets hurt in the game on Saturday as a result of rough play, I hope some lawyer puts the NHL and the member teams on notice.

The NHL has long proved its inability to govern itself. Even Mario Lemieux called it, “A garage league.”

Years ago I was watching a kids game with former Flyer great Ross Lonsberry. Ross’ son saw a cherry on a sundae and absolutely pasted a guy against the glass. I let out an, “Ahh jeez that’ll rearrange your innards.”

Ross Lonsberry, member of the Broad Street Bullies, winner of two Stanley Cup rings, “That was a bad hit.”

“Why?” I asked.

“Because it wasn’t necessary. He didn’t have to hit him to take the puck.”

“You’re right. But do you give him a sundae and tell him not to eat the cherry?” Ross smiled, knowingly.

For anybody who knows who I’m talking about, there was no penalty called and none deserved. The other kid wasn’t hurt on the play. Shaken up yes. I’m retelling the story to make a point.

There is a level of professionalism in hockey that goes beyond the rule book. It’s called the code. A huge part of the code is when necessary.

When it’s necessary you do pick a fight. You do hit as hard as you’re able. When it’s necessary.

What you don’t do is serve up a cherry.

Mario Lemieux was right in 1992 and he’s right today. The NHL is “a garage league.”

To any Plaintiff’s attorneys out there, the NHL also needs your help. I wonder if the NHLPA has the guts to file for injunctive relief, even at the expense of rescheduling the game?


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