Friday, March 16, 2007

No More Drama

Except for the minor, minute detail that Chris Simon's vicious slash to the throat/face of Ryan Hollweg has resulted in more drama for the NHL, which is already dealing with the Pittsburgh fiasco AND the Ted Saskin email scandal. (Note: As someone from Saskatchewan, the email scandals I'm used to all involve male high school teachers and young female students so this one is a bit of a shock for me)

My first 10 thoughts, immediately after the incident"

  1. Who the hell is Ryan Hollweg?
  2. Isn't Chris Simon that guy who was accused of uttering a racial slur at Mike Grier (who had apparently uttered one first because Simon is like, Aboriginal or some shit?)
  3. Dude, who the hell is Ryan Hollweg?
  4. Shit, that was a dirty check.
  5. Man he went Perezhogin on his ass.
  6. I wonder if McSorley and Perezhogin are proud of him.
  7. I would be.
  8. Colin whatever the hell is name is' head is going to explode.
  9. Hey, I bet hockey will make ESPN tonight.
  10. No, really, who the hell is Ryan Hollweg?

Now, I offer my lack of knowledge of the participants as one of the primary arguments AGAINST expansion (though everyone in hockey knows its going to happen) however, this is just proof of a diluted talent pool.

So after wondering who the hell Ryan Hollweg was, I decided to make use, not of Google, but of Wikipedia, because its cooler.

Here's what I learned:

  1. He's American (so that's why I have no clue who he is)
  2. He's from California (well it makes even more sense that I don't know who he is)
  3. He played in the BCHL (and since I'm from Saskatchewan the only Junior A league that matters is the SJHL)
  4. He played for Medicine Hat in the Dub (how the hell do I not know the name?)
  5. He amassed 239 PIM in Hartford in the AHL last season (Hartford? They still have a hockey team?)

I then spent the next several days watching anxiously as the NHL disciplinarians heads explod- I mean, they took time to meet with all involved parties and judiciously spin the wheel of just- I mean, come to a decision.

Personally, just in case I wasn't clear with the "he went Perezhogin on his ass" comment, I think this incident is more like my darling Perezhogin's then McSorley's. First and foremost, Hollweg hit him from behind. Perezhogin was slashed, tripped and basically given a beat down in front of the net before he snapped.

So to me, the act was NOT premeditated. It was a reaction. Not a good reaction. In fact, it was a ridiculously STUPID reaction if you ask me, but he didn't plan to do it, and to me that weighs heavily on the suspension.

See, McSorley planned it - he deserved the year long suspension. Bertuzzi's hit on Steve Moore was also premeditated. He'd been trying to get Moore to drop the gloves all night (of course, if you ask me, Moore pussied out when he wouldn't drop the mits with Bert - but he didn't deserve what happened to him). Bert was suspended for 22 games.

So when the 25 game suspension came down, I looked at the two harshest prior suspensions in league history. To me, a spur of the moment attack (even if it is with a stick) does NOT deserve the same kind of suspension as a premeditated attack of any kind. You can argue all you like that Bert was banned from playing during the lockout, so his suspension was really longer then those 22 NHL games that he missed, but he only forfeited 22 games of salary.

You see, the NHL is like any professional sports league, and they want to hit the players where it hurts - the wallet.

Sure it kills a player to not be out on the ice if they could be helping their team, but this was enforcer on enforcer. So really who the hell cares? Hollweg wasn't hurt nearly as badly as Moore was, he didn't miss any game action.

So I think the suspension was too long.

The fact is, suspending players is an ineffective method of preventing further inappropriate stick incidents. It's like the death penalty doesn't stop people from committing murder. A long suspension isn't going to stop a player from reacting - sometimes stupidly.

What does stop the players? Officials making the right call the first time.

So I suggest that NHL begin fining officials who miss calls. I mean I know refs don't make coach or player money, but fine your officials. Maybe some of the old blind ones will start to retire when they're losing money for missing calls (and we all know who they are).

As for whether or not Simon should face legal repercussions, I think the DA in that county or whatever the hell you Americans divide that stuff into should take a long, hard look at it... and then leave what happens on the ice to be dealt with by the league.

When players leave the field of play (a la Ron Artest in Detroit) and hit fans that's another story entirely, but in the end, what happens on the ice, stays on the ice as far as I'm concerned.

18 comments:

Sherry said...

I didn't have a problem with the suspension on Simon because yeah, the league is setting a precedent, blah blah blah Publicity-Cakes. I did thought it was strange that they didn't suspend Hollweg for what was blatantly a hit from behind.

Also, I'm glad you mentioned Ron Artest. I was watching SportsCentre one time and they showed a kid with a sign that says: "ARTEST! Don't beat me up, I have school tomorrow!"

Objectionable Conduct said...

Precedent was set - with the Bertuzzi suspension - trying to set a new one now is dumb. It's all publicity if you ask me.

Love that sign lol. I may have seen that too.

Meg said...

I would imagine that, whether the NHL disciplinarians say so or not, the fact that the man had 5 previous suspensions played into the length of this suspension. I mean this is someone who had also been suspended for cross checking (twice), elbowing, and kneeing, in addition to the suspension for the Mike Grier incident you mention.

I realize that hockey is a physical sport and players are going to lose their temper, but when someone's on his sixth suspension I tend to think that's someone who should perhaps not be on the ice. In this particular case I tend to think the benefit is not preventative (as you pointed out it won't prevent anything); the benefit is that someone who clearly has difficulty controlling himself (and has since junior) is off the ice.

I absolutely agree the officials should have dealt with Hollweg in the first place, and the officiating should be addressed but that can't excuse Simon.

I do think it's sad though, not least because of his relationship with Nolan. I mean, ony a bit earlier Nolan tells David Amber, "To see [Simon] now and to see what he has done, I think that's the greatest accomplishment I have had in my whole coaching career," and then this happens? Sure it doesn't take away from what success Simon has had, but it's got to be disappointing.

Objectionable Conduct said...

His previous suspensions apart from the TWO stick related suspension should have absolutely NO bearing on this suspension. The fact of the matter is, Bert recieved less of punishment then Simon did, and Simon's actions were NOT premeditated, while Bertuzzi's were.

To me THAT has more of an impact on the decision that SHOULD have been made.

Sure its time for a punishment - I agree with that. But someone who does something at the spur of the moment does NOT deserve worse treatment then someone who comitted a premeditated act. That's why manslaughter exists in criminal justice. We as a society place a higher value on premeditated acts.

If Simon has so much trouble controlling himself, wouldn't the NHL be better off sending him to anger management courses as part of his suspension then just suspending him?

They don't suspend people who test positive for illegal narcotics (just performance enhancers) they quietly send them to the substance abuse program because they have a problem

If Simon has an anger management issue then the league shouldn't punish and punish and punish - clearly the punishments haven't helped. Get the man some help and maybe things will be better when he comes back.

Jordi said...

Refs will never be fined. It's like tennis officials. They'll stay on that high horse for years to come! And I love the point on the refs. I loathe how people seem to forget that there could've been a much better prevention tactic than just money. Though I'm starting to suspect that penalising with money will get pretty useless since the guilt associated with the penalty will be negated by the monetary fine.

Objectionable Conduct said...

Jordi - I couldn't agree more. Plus some of the fines are ridiculous. 1000$ is nothing to these players.

Meg said...

His previous suspensions apart from the TWO stick related suspension should have absolutely NO bearing on this suspension.

I disagree. I think that any suspensions for acts of non-premeditated violence should be the same whether he uses his stick, his elbow, his knee, what-have-you.

I do, however, agree with you that the premeditation in the case of Bertuzzi makes that offense worse. But I don't think Simon's suspension should have been shorter; I think Bertuzzi's suspension should have been longer. Now, if I thought that this lengthier suspension was a sign of the league cracking down discipline-wise, I would be pleased with it. Unfortunately I don't think that's the case. I think that the jokers in charge just feel comfortable giving Simon a longer suspension because he's not a star player and that means different rules apply to him.

So I do approve of the Simon suspension, I just wish it was the exception to the rule in cases of inappropriately violent acts.

If Simon has so much trouble controlling himself, wouldn't the NHL be better off sending him to anger management courses as part of his suspension then just suspending him?

Do I think that would be useful? Yes. Do I think the league should do it? Not necessarily. I think Simon is an adult and as an adult he needs to be responsible for himself. If he has a problem controlling his anger than he should get help and the league should facilitate that in whatever way they can. But I think the initiative needs to be his.

In my opinion illegal narcotics are somewhat different because the only person being risked is the player himself, not the other players on the ice. Again though, I think the chances of counseling being effective are slight if someone is placed in a substance abuse program by their employer. For such programs to be effective the person often needs to choose to be there.

This particular opinion doesn't have a ton to do with the NHL though, and more to do with my opinions on personal responsibility. At the end of the day I think Chris Simon is solely responsible for the way he conducts himself. The league's responsibility is not to his mental health but to the physical health of the players he--or any other player--might hurt when they lose their temper.

Objectionable Conduct said...

I disagree. I think that any suspensions for acts of non-premeditated violence should be the same whether he uses his stick, his elbow, his knee, what-have-you.

The incidents are completely different if they don't involve a stick. That's why the league didn't take the Bertuzzi situation into consideration when they suspended Simon.

Do I think that would be useful? Yes. Do I think the league should do it? Not necessarily. I think Simon is an adult and as an adult he needs to be responsible for himself. If he has a problem controlling his anger than he should get help and the league should facilitate that in whatever way they can. But I think the initiative needs to be his.

I disagree. If the league wants so badly to STOP the violence they won't just punish players, they will try to rehabilitate them - the same way we as a society try to rehabilitate criminals while punishing them.

If the worst that is going to happen to Simon is a fine or a suspension he won't change. If the league or his team says - enough is enough and forces him to look at his issues he'll have a chance.

I disagree with you completely on the idea of personal responsibility. Society and those around us teach us what behaviours are acceptable and which behaviours aren't. When society fails to teach us those things for whatever reason, we as a society need to help those affected.

Substance abuse NEVER only impacts one person. It destroys families and can destroy a team.

Chris Simon isn't the only person responsible for who and what he has become. There are many factors that played a role in his development. In this case, likely his past coaches. If the NHL wants to take a hardline on inappropriate violence then start trying to get the players some help rather then just suspending them.

Meg said...

Substance abuse NEVER only impacts one person. It destroys families and can destroy a team.

I do agree with this. I've seen the problems it can cause for families--as I imagine most people have either directly or indirectly--and I certainly didn't mean to diminish that. So I do want to mention that I was talking specifically about physical harm while playing the game and not any of the other effects of substance abuse.

My argument is really that no matter how hard they might try to rehabilitate someone, it won't work unless that person is truly dedicated to the process. And most times unless someone seeks help, they won't be. I do think that the NHL should attempt to facilitate his going to counseling.But I think that sending him there without his initiative will be just about as useful as most of society's attempts to rehabilitate criminals. Which is to say, not very.

In Simon's statement he admitted that his act was wrong and:
"He apologized to Hollweg but claimed he did not know what he was doing when he swung his stick at Hollweg's chin because he suffered a concussion when Hollweg hit him into the boards just before the incident."
-New York Post

So he is acknowledging that what he did is wrong but he is also--fairly or unfairly--sidestepping responsibility for what he did. Of course he says that he's not using this as an alibi, but the fact is, it is an excuse. He's not recognizing an anger management problem and because of that I think that anger management counseling would be more cosmetic than effective.

I think saying this makes it seem like I see Chris Simon as a villain and that's not the case. I think he's an individual who has had a tough time. Certainly he should be helped if someone can help him. But I think that no one can force someone to help himself and that's what the NHL forcing him into counseling would amount to.

I don't think that I'm going to change your mind, though, any more than you'll change mine. And I think that's a good thing because I don't actually believe there's a right answer. If there was, the issue wouldn't be nearly so complicated as it is.

Objectionable Conduct said...

I don't think that I'm going to change your mind, though, any more than you'll change mine. And I think that's a good thing because I don't actually believe there's a right answer. If there was, the issue wouldn't be nearly so complicated as it is.

At least we both agree that its an incredibly complex issue.

I don't think that forcing treatment will necessarily help - but it might not hurt.

Elly said...

Sort of piggy-backing on a comment here, but this really stuck out to me:

'If Simon has so much trouble controlling himself, wouldn't the NHL be better off sending him to anger management courses as part of his suspension then just suspending him?'

This is a fantastic idea, as far as I'm concerned. In the legal system, they punish people again and again...and then have some sort of rehabilitation program for them to go through to 'fix' the problem they are exhibiting, whether that be stealing, drinking, or child pornography...why should anger management be any different in a sport that is so physical? Fining them measly sums of money (please, $1000? That's like change I found in my car seats), isn't going to work, these guys (as you said) have more money than any of us would know what to do with. Actually taking the time and effort to figure out what the problem is, and then trying to correct it in a productive way is the best solution. Not an easy one, and probably an expensive one, but something that I believe would yield the best results.

On a side note, it's funny that you said that about Hollweg, it took me a minute to remember who the heck he was.

Objectionable Conduct said...

Elly - well they already have a substance abuse program in the league, so surely the NHLPA and the league can set up something for anger management.

I mean nearly ANY addictive behaviour (and you can be addicted to anger) can be helped with a 12 step program. So it might not take that much to set up if they already have one for those with substance abuse issues.

Heather B. said...

I would agree that Simon's actions, while unacceptable, were atleast somewhat understandable. I think Janssen's hit on Kaberle was much more vicious and premediated and deserved far more than 3 games. Of the three recent big events, it was the one that deserved 25 games, IMO. But I think the problem with using the Bertuzzi suspension as a precedent is that it wasn't long enough. Twenty-three games can't be the ceiling forever.

meg, you're probably right that anger management counseling isn't going to do much good unless the player is really invested in changing, but at the very least it would be someone officially saying, "You have a problem and you need to deal with it." I do think there comes a time however when you have to wonder if the NHL is the best place for someone who has that much rage simmering so close to the surface. (That's just a general observation. I don't know much about Simon's past.)

Agreed that the crap-ass officiating is not helping with keeping game situations under control. If you don't want players taking things into their own hands then make the damn referees do their jobs or get rid of them.

Objectionable Conduct said...

Heather - I agree that Bert's suspension can't be a ceiling forever - that said, it is the most recent major incident in the league and is therfore the measuring stick.

The NHL is inconsistent with discipline - I mean Alexander the Gr8t took Briere out from behind and recieved NOTHING. Not even a penalty.

With league discipline being so eratic (sp?) it doesn't surprise me that players take matters into their own hands or that coaches like Lindsay Ruff send the big boys out to take care of business.

I agree that the anger management courses may not help, but I stand by my previous statement that they won't hurt and at best, they will allow a player to know that the league will be keeping a closer eye on their actions because the league has decided that their behaviour is a problem.

Elly said...

Good point! Now the difficult part would be to get the players to willingly go, although I suppose they could use financial motivation or further suspensions.

Objectionable Conduct said...

Who said anything about willing? Open-ended suspensions - where you cannot return to game action until you seek treatment, would be enough for most players.

Elly said...

Lol, chain them to the bench with the key in the lock, so to speak. They just have to reach out and turn it.

Objectionable Conduct said...

Pretty much lol.