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Shea It Ain’t So

April 12, 2012

Hockey, NBA

At the end of the Nashville Predators 3-2 win over the Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday night, Preds defenseman Shea Weber got a little physical with Red Wings forward Henrik Zetterberg.

On Thursday morning, the office of Brendan Shanahan announced that Weber would be fined $2,500.  They’re also going to keep a closer eye on him for the remainder of the playoffs.

Zetterberg will be fine and will suit up for Game 2 in Nashville.  His good health is a big factor for the league in merely handing down a fine, rather than a suspension.

So was it enough?  Nashville fans certainly think so.  Red Wings fans surely think not.  Reaction is a matter of perception, even to the league’s disciplinarians.

Punishment depends entirely on what kind of message the NHL is trying to send.

Professional sports leagues, including the NHL have cracked down on physical play over the last few years, attempting to cut down on concussions and keep the fellas on the floor/rink/field safe.  Still, the leagues’ regulations have mostly been of the punishment variety.  The problem with that method is that the crime has already been committed.

Rather than reacting to a play that’s already happened, the NHL needs to be more proactive with how they deal with this stuff in-game.  Allow officials to review questionable plays, to determine a fair punishment in the game.  It sucks when you have to sit for five minutes on a major penalty wile your mates kill it off.  It’s another when you get tossed because you went knee-on-knee with a guy in open ice.

Want to eliminate that stuff?  The league office will need to be an ever-vigilant police patrol, looking to penalize these crimes instantly.  Rather than wait and react, be proactive and attack stuff that goes beyond the game.

In basketball, if the point guard moves the ball to a different part of the floor, then pushes his defender to the ground, it’s called a technical foul immediately.  That kind of play has no place in the game, and is whistled immediately.  Players know that there are certain things that are OK to do in the context of the game and where the line is drawn.

With a meager $2,500 fine and a finger wave at the naughty pupil, though, the message is essentially that this is part of the game.

That isn’t even close to being an acceptable response.  For a league that’s says it is trying to crack down on dirty play, the tone needs to be set.  I’ve given the league credit for doing much more than it has in the past to try and eliminate dirty plays.  But fighting, WWE style head-slams, headshots, and knee-on-knee hits are not part of hockey, no matter what anybody argues.

Basketball players don’t worry about getting punched in the head on the floor at a moment’s notice, and there’s no fighting in hoops.  It’s simply because the game is ruled and regulated to punish these things the moment they happen and not let them escalate.

Though Kobe Bryant and Ron Artest were tangled up, no haymakers were thrown.

So suspend Shea Weber?  For a game?  Maybe.  But I think the entire league needs to revision its disciplinary policy.  Rather than being reactive, be proactive.  As long as fighting and face rubs are considered “Part of The Game,” then what’s another play like this?  According to how the league currently governs itself, Weber’s frustration boiling over was an unfortunate mistake.  And there’s no reason to punish an unfortunate mistake.

Until the NHL revists just how it views unnecessary violence in the game of hockey, I see no reason to suspend Shea Weber.  Detroit had better thank its lucky stars that Henrik Zetterberg will be in Game 2 to mix it up some more.

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About mattpocket

I am the Sports Director at 88.3 FM WXOU Radio, out of Oakland University. I am the play-by-play voice of the Oakland Golden Grizzlies. I've been to two NCAA Tournaments, been heard on ESPN, and won 9 Michigan Association of Broadcasters Awards. Follow me on Twitter. @cornerpocket422 You can tune in to The Corner Pocket every Friday from 3-5 pm with my cohost Bryan and Everson and myself, featuring the best guests, such as Dave Birkett, Jim Nill, and Bruce Buffer.

View all posts by mattpocket

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