Most have now finished railing on the NHL for the “too lenient” suspension leveled against Chicago Black Hawks defenceman Duncan Keith for whacking Charlie Coyle in the head with his stick last week. So it’s time to focus on the other group that has bears some responsibility for these stick fouls and illegal checks that take away from the great game, the players and the NHL Players Association.
Certainly the league’s dealing with discipline is open for debate, I would fully support far more severe penalties for the actions of players that outrage and cause almost nightly debate about whether supplemental discipline is forthcoming. But among all that debate and whatever rules and penalties are imposed it is still the players that control how the game is played.
Arash Madani had a nice piece with Florida Panthers captain Willie Mitchell who remains out of the line up with concussion issues. You can read it here. http://www.sportsnet.ca/hockey/nhl/panthers-mitchell-talks-concussions-future-hockey/ Mitchell is critical of the NHL and feels more needs to be done to curb the illegal violence.
Can the NHL be doing more? Absolutely, because the interest of player safety is something that never ends and constant pursuit of how to make a safer environment for the guy on the ice never stops.
Yet through all this the NHL players themselves and the NHLPA appear to do very to try and eliminate this dangerous and reckless behavior. Their sole objective seems to be in asking for more from the league.
Until the players deem the actions of their own unacceptable then there will be far too many of these dangerous occurrences. Don Fehr and the NHL Players Association seem far more concerned with mandating days off during the season, cashing in on the World Cup and others events and having players get their own hotel rooms on the road than doing something proactive to make the game on the ice safer.
The players and the PA must start to speak out against these kinds of on ice crimes. Quietly and off the record bitching about the league not doing enough isn’t addressing the problem. You’re the ones creating the unsafe environment; it’s up to you to do something to stop it.