UPDATE: June 23
The NHL has finally banned hits to the head by any player from any angle...in a move long overdue.
Perhaps, now they can impose penalties consistent with the "crime" of terminating another player's career, especially one as important to the game as Sidney Crosby.
As an avid Canadian hockey fan, it is time to congratulate the Boston Bruins, winners of the Stanley Cup for 2011. Their defeat of the favoured Vancouver Canucks in the seventh game was, in the end, not a surprise, given their convincing wins in three home games earlier in the series, linked to three minimal losses by one goal in Vancouver.
But, for me, hockey, especially at the NHL level, has lost much of its fascination.
It has become another example of "extreme" sports, with too many destructive, potentially career ending hits, and it is only a matter of time before someone dies playing the sport.
And the NHL will have no one but itself to thank if and when that happens.
Skating on thin ice, is one of those "Canadian red flags" for kids. When the weather in winter is warmer than usual, the ponds are covered with ice too thin to hold the skaters, and they fall through, risking drowning.
In the NHL, it seems that global warming has thinned the ice metaphorically, moving the league and its seven or eight hundred millionaire "slaves" to the edge of that thin ice.
Sidney Crosby, the game's best player by all accounts, hasn't skated since the first week of January, having suffered a serious concussion from an elbow to the head, by one name Stekel, who did not even receive a penalty. The captain of the Stanley Cup winners, Zdeno Chara, himself broke the neck of a Montreal Canadian by driving his head into a stanchion covering the exposed edge of glass on the side of the Bell Centre in Montreal. The victim has not returned, and once again, Chara was given no penalty or supplementary discipline like a fine or suspension.
The Bruins themselves lost one of the better players in the final series, when Nathan Horton was struck in the head, and left unconscious on the ice with another concussion, after a brutal and senseless hit by Aaron Rome, leaving him with a serious concussion. Rome was suspended for the remaining four games of the final series.
The league seems impotent to make changes, for example, to the icing rule that permit two men to race at top speed the full length of the ice after the puck, both crashing into the boards and risking permanent injury, not to mention risking their lives. In the olympic and international and junior leagues, that rule has been eliminated without damaging the game in any way. The league also seems impotent, or stubbornly unwilling to eliminate the "head hits" from their game, in the same way that the OHL Junior A executives have done with their game, once again without in any way detracting from the speed and the skill and the excitement of the game.
Unfortunately, the NHL is like General Motors, when only big cars would satisfy the ego's of their executives, and they hoped, their customers, and changes were out of the question. It took bankruptcy, staring it in the face, to bring GM to its knees.
Will it take a funeral of one of the best players to bring the NHL to its knees? Let's hope not.
If the league executives were to be considered models and mentors of healthy masculinity by anyone, such a judgement would have to rank as imbecilic, much like judging cheating male spouses "hot" by any segment of the population.