By the time you get to read this editorial, the Neanderthal Head Hunting and Concussion League, formerly known as the National Hockey League, will have started its 2011-2012 season.
Over the past summer, a lot of attention was centered on fighting and head hits in hockey as three former NHL players died in just over a three-month period. Although each death had its own unique circumstances, all three players – Wade Belak, Derek Boogaard and Rick Ryplen – probably only got to play in the big league because of their willingness to fight.
While fighting has been a part of the NHL forever, there may be a move afoot to ban this activity from the game. You probably heard that collective shout of NO WAY all across our country.
Can the NHL survive with a no fighting rule? Will fans even come out to watch the game given they won’t be able to get their fighting fix at the games anymore?
Of course the league will survive without fighting. We need to let skilled players provide more offense and goal scoring which is what the NHL really needs anyway.
And this brings me to the CBC.
For years now, our CBC has provided a venue for Don Cherry to promote fighting in the game because that is what he does. Cherry has gotten away with this far too long and he needs to be stopped.
Now, some people say that Cherry is against hits to the head and he wants safety in the game. While that part may be true, a culture of violence in the game has lead to head hits and all those concussions that we’ve heard so much about lately.
Dr. Charles Tator, a prominent neurosurgeon in Toronto, said in 2009 that Cherry promotes ‘aggressive hockey’ which leads to injuries. Dr. Tator was nearly driven out of Canada for his remarks that upset Cherry supporters.
But Dr. Tator was, and is right, about Cherry.
Many fans have come to believe that fighting is a part of hockey’s culture. Even Gary Bettman, the NHL Commissioner is reluctant to take a stand against fighting as he says it part of the game’s culture too. I wonder if economics plays a part in Mr. Bettman’s thinking.
So, the CBC should stop Cherry from fooling hockey fans into thinking he’s against violence. I hope Old Abe will forgive me if I add another phrase to his famous quotation about fooling people as, apparently, you can fool a lot of the people all of the time.
While I’m sure Cherry is a fine guy, he should use his power for good instead of meanness.
The CBC, the best television channel on the planet, is wrong on this one. One of the things we really need in the world is TV set that would turn itself off when something bad comes on. The first intermission segment of Hockey Night in Canada that Cherry appears on would automatically go off the air.
Anyway, hopefully Sheriff Matt Dillon, AKA Brendan Shanahan will be able to seriously curb or even end head hits to the game, as there is absolutely no justification for this type of hitting at all.
Again, I want to emphasize that I’m not against good, hard hitting in hockey as it is definitely a part of the game and does make it more exciting. Hockey is a fast, rough, tough, physical big-boys’ game and injuries do and will occur.
However, unjustified hits to the head, especially when a player is nowhere near the puck, are uncalled for and must stop.
Whatever happens, let’s hope the NHL survives all the fuss and that the players won’t have to worry about literally losing their heads every time they go on the ice.