Monday, 14 March 2011

Chara’s hit bring attention to Hockey violence:
“…the NHL’s quick and ineffective ruling on the Pacioretty Chara incident of last Tuesday is totally unacceptable, as it does nothing to try and reverse the alarming trend of vicious hits that have sidelined some of the games greatest talents”
So read the letter sent by Via rail to the NHL on Friday, threatening to pull their sponsorship, and they are not the first. On Wednesday, Air Canada’s chief executive also had a letter sent to the NHL threatening to pull their sponsorship and called on the NHL to “protect both the players and integrity of the game” before a “fatality” occurs. (11th March Globe and Mail)
Air Canada has gone quiet in the meanwhile (after the League lashed out at them) but this is only closing the stable door after the horse has bolted!

And the sponsors are not alone in their criticism. Even in Political circles, there has been a lot of talk concerning the level of violence and the number of concussions in the game. Many are also concerned about the example being set to young Hockey players.
An article by Ken Dryden, former Canadiens goaltender and current Canadian politician in Saturday’s Globe and Mail (12th March 2011) highlights the consequences of this problem. Dryden gives examples of several former NHL (Reggie Fleming and Bob Probert) and NFL players, who where found in post mortem autopsies to have suffered from Chronic-Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) a condition with Dementia like symptoms caused by frequent concussions and trauma to the head. Dryden feels that in this day and age it is unacceptable for this problem to be ignored and he feels the NHL should address the spate of head injuries.
An opportunity for this has arisen, cause as we are speaking NHL General Managers are having a weeklong meeting in Florida. One can only hope that they make this topic a priority on their discussion lists.
In the meanwhile players are continuing to make illegal and dangerous moves, and in my opinion, this was only to be expected after all the recent rule changes the NHL has made in recent years (especially the 48’s- see October 5th blog entry)
Solving this problem isn’t as simple as just changing the rules back though; the problem lies in the NHL itself. Bosses are trying to make the game faster to attract more viewers, and this is what it comes down to in the end. Hockey is being played purely for the purpose of making a profit and we are losing touch with the true meaning of the game.