SportsProf

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Friday, October 12, 2007

Broad Street Bozos

You would think that the Philadelphia Flyers (or Fly-errs, given the horrible miscues of late) would finally get the message that it's not the mid-1970's and that goon hockey is long gone from the NHL. Perhaps now that a second Fly-err has gotten a long suspension for a stupid, dirty hit will tell the Broad Street Battery Artists that enough is enough. Read here about Jesse Boulerice's attempt to use a hockey stick for cutlery and see for yourself.

It was bad enough after the rules change that took place after the strike that the Flyers signed statuesque players to play a game that no longer had a role for them. Watch the lummox lunge at the guy on the other team who can skate right by him and watch the hometown six lose (some of these guys were so stationery -- can you say Derian Hatcher at career's end -- that pigeons might have found a home on them). Time and time again. Yes, Ed Snider and Bob Clarke were perhaps trying to relive their glory days of Dave "The Hammer" Schultz and Andre "Moose" Dupont, but the fact of the matter was that times have changed mightily since the fighting, slashing days of the 1970's. If only, though, someone were to tell Snider and Clarke.

So now they've still been at it, and I'm sure that loyal fans will argue that these guys acted alone and the team didn't put them up to it, and I'm sure there's a lot of truth in that, except for a basic premise that still exists in hockey -- you need fighters to police the game and keep everyone honest when the sticks get too high and the checking gets a bit too out of hand. That's all well and good except for when the tough guys fight too often and too dirty. That is, of course, if you believe the premise from the get go.

The NHL will keep suspending players who lose their cool and do stupid things, but, as with anything else, the real deterrent will come in one of two ways, one good and one awful. The good will be if someone commits some mayhem that disfigures in a temporary way and then gets suspended for a year or two -- without pay. That type of suspension will act as a major deterrent to future brutality. The awful way if someone gets hurt irreparably or killed because some goon with marginal talent loses his cool and blinds someone or paralyzes someone. Then a suspension will be permanent, and future violators will lose their right to play the game. But why should the NHL wait for this to happen?

Because most of the time society puts up its stop signs after the bad accidents, not before them.

So why should the NHL be any different?

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