Brain damage.

February 19, 2011

When the New York Islanders and the Pittsburgh Penguins collectively lost their minds all over the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum ice last Friday night, they set up a media frenzy.  After the announcement of suspensions and comments from Penguins owner Mario the Magnificent, the story was lead news on CBC and actually reported in Pittsburgh sports pages!  Hopefully some rational discussion and decision will come of this great accumulation of nonsense.

To wit:

This is a guy who’s paychecks Mario signs, so he’s not only being hypocritical, some would say that he’s the wolf in sheep’s clothes.  That, however, would be both unfair and beside the point.  Mario’s reaction is an institutional reaction, because hockey ‘scores’ that were not settled by the referees but were deemed sufficiently egregious — usually meaning dangerous – have always been addressed by the players according to a code.  Some players may hold it dearer than others, some may even deny it, and I make no claim to know its finer points, but it is verifiably true.

So, bringing Matt Cooke back, please watch this clip of Don Cherry also reacting institutionally.  This was a very popular Coaches’ Corner segment, and his finger-wagging story is the kind of thing that has beautified him in some circles, but this is also an institutional response.  Nothing is gained.  I believe all is explained, and the Friday night incident was as predictable as the Leafs trading for youth in February.  To emphasize that point, if you follow NHL hockey closely, and you knew they were playing Friday, either you knew that was going to happen or you are a moron.

So what gives?  Why?  Both to Lemieux and Cherry: why?  Why do you have Matt Cooke?  At least Burke both gets the best fighters and acknowledges why he’s doing it.  Colton Orr hasn’t ended any careers lately.  One of Lemieux’ goons is the Ulf Samuelsson of his – oh!  See how that works everybody!*  What should happen is that both Lemieux and Cherry should team up and apply pressure on the league to give out meaningful suspensions.

The league’s response was also predictable, and the reaction from the league’s goons, and subsequent counter-reaction from their victims’ team’s fighters and goons, is equally predictable.  In that sense, Mario is right.  In the more meaningful sense, Mario is wrong in the sense that people trying to navigate by clouds are wrong.  You may be momentarily pointed in the right direction.  You cannot get where you are trying to go that way.

*for those too young to recall, Ulf Samuelsson was ostensibly a Lemieux bodyguard a la Semenko, but without fighting prowess.

The Sportsvssports suspension system:

Multi-time offender auto 1 game or 2x

Minimum penalty

Attempt to injure –            10

Head shot-                        1

Leaving feet-                     1

Injurious elbow,                1 with no swinging motion

kick, or high stick              3 with swinging motion

leaving bench                   10

sucker punch                     5

from behind                       2 if questionable.  5 if clear

All penalties are cumulative, so Cooke on Tyutin carries a minimum of 30 games, as opposed to the 4 he actually got.


Chris’s Christmas wishes:

December 24, 2010

By way of introduction, and in order to be as upfront as possible about my biases, I present for your perusal my personal wish-list of sports related items I would like to discover on Christmas morning.

1.       An acknowledgement by the NHL and NHLPA not just that ‘the code’ is real, but that it has historically served a purpose, but that video replay provides an opportunity for an alternate system of dispensing justice. I would like furthermore for both sides to commit to exploring such a system in a meaningful way.

2.       An ESPN channel devoted to competitive pursuits practiced at the college level, but previously considered ‘not real sports.’  My suggestions for prime time live events would be NCAA student politics, NCAA lying convincingly about having scored with that girl from lab, and NCAA dentistry.

3.       Another crack at starting a ‘Cito!  Cito!’ chant at the man’s last game as manager.  What a class act.  Between Cito and Halladay, we had it better than we realized.

4.       Baseball cards.

5.       A pickup street hockey game in my hood I can realistically participate in.  The adults here play early on Sunday, as if Saturday night didn’t exist.  Their children think I’m weird when I ask to play with them.

6.       40 more basketball courts in this and every other large city.  I know some parents don’t want their kids always hanging out at the courts, and basketball is not a substitute for a community, but it’s not society’s responsibility to make them do their homework.  It is a society’s responsibility to provide a place for children to recreate other than staircases and alleys.

7.       Less twitter.

8.       A gentlemen’s (and gentlewomen’s) agreement to resume calling the guy ‘Chad Johnson.’