Monday, January 19, 2009

Hockey's Wrongs: Twofold

This week, the NHL has had to endure two major issues that are at the forefront of hockey's woes: the fighting controversy and player mobility.

Recently, in the OHL, Whitby Dunlops' defenseman Don Sanderson died from head trauma which was incurred during a fight with an opposing player. Immediately, the national media, which rarely covers hockey related stories, pounced on this one and reported it as the prime example of hockey's cruelty. In fact the OHL has announced harsher regulations for fighting, specifically the removal of chinstraps during a brawl. "It's just the evolution of the game and our league," OHL commissioner David Branch said last night. "It's a great message to send to other players and leagues below us." Now, to those devoted fans of the game on ice, we should be outraged at such a reactionary response to one isolated incident. The fact that fighting is central to the progression of a game points to the sport's tradition. Every sport has a trademark and hockey's is fighting. Any measure to diminish physical play will just make the game softer and less enjoyable to the fans, the ones who actually keep the sport close to heart. The more regulations added to the sport from those in management will "de-naturalize" the essence of the game. I know from my personal sense of it, the next time I go to a Ranger game, I ain't leaving until Colton Orr knocks someone out.

Another problem with hockey, and, quite possibly, a barrier to its uprising in the world of sportsmania, is player mobility. Far too many players aren't able to settle in with their team, largely because they move from coast to coast faster than a migrating whale. Take former New York Islanders goalie Wade Dubielewicz. The man who helped lead the now struggling Isles to the playoffs in the '06-'07 season returned to the Island a few days ago, as he was called back from a short stint in the KHL. While skating with coach Scott Gordon on Saturday, Dooby found out that he had been claimed off waivers by the Columbus Blue Jackets, and before you could say,"Potvin Sucks!" the 29 year old netminder was on a plane to Vancouver, where CBJ was playing that night. When interviewed by an Islanders staffer, Dooby sounded bitter about the sudden move, and reminisced about his great time in New York. Unfortunately for Dubielwicz, the shift may be short lived, as Blue Jackets backup Pascal Leclaire is heading back to the team shortly. Now, I ask you, how would you feel flying back from Russia only to find out that you're on your way out to Vancouver? Personally, I know that if I returned to a team that I was an integral part of only to discover that I've been let go, I'd be outraged. Moving a player constantly places a burden on his family, and in this case, the player should have more of a say. In a world where the player is rendered powerless, sports slavery ensues, and that ain't good for hockey as a whole. If he's up on waivers again, Dubielwicz better be picked up by the Isles. Lord knows they could use his netminding this year.

1 comment:

  1. Sorry for the long article. Pleas read it in full, it is very interesting to see what the NHL is doing and what other hockey leagues are doing as a result of this.