It’s scarier than another night vision video starring Paris Hilton. It’s spookier than Illegal Curve’s own Adam Gutkin sans un chemise. It’s more frightening than a movie that has spiders, snakes (on or off a plane), and people with saws. I am speaking of, for the umpteenth consecutive week, a controversy surrounding the NHL, its players, and their actions’ on the ice. (In the interest of fairness, it’s nice to see a sports league that has the thug actions on the ice, and not on AND off the playing surface like in the National Felons League and the NBA.) I am speaking of the on-ice incident involving Randy Jones and Patrice Bergeron.
As I am sure most readers are well aware, there was a very scary incident involving Mr. Jones hitting Mr. Bergeron head first into the boards. It looked bad from the start, and even worse as Mr. Bergeron was taken off the ice on a stretcher without moving any of his extremities. Fortunately, Mr. Bergeron was not seriously injured, and suffered no paralysis, when it appeared upon first reaction that it might have been a distinct possibility.
Seeing as how ultimately, Patrice Bergeron will be all right, I am going to venture into dangerous territory and say that as culpable as Randy Jones is in the incident, Patrice Bergeron is also somewhat responsible for putting himself into the vulnerable position. Although my hockey career was undistinguished and (as some would say) an embarrassment to the game, I did know the proper way to protect myself on the ice, and not to stand a foot away from the boards, facing the boards. If I knew it, and considering I could barely control my body on the ice due to an inability to skate, then an NHL player should know it too. If I knew where to go while playing no contact house league hockey at River Heights Community Centre (Go Buzzards!), then an experienced hockey player knows not to do what Bergeron did.
My esteemed colleague, Richard Pollock, wrote yesterday that the NHL needed to come down hard on Jones. With all due respect to Richard, whom I readily admit knows substantially more about hockey than I, I disagree. Rarely do I agree with the tall foreheads at the NHL offices, but in this instance, I feel as though the punishment fit the crime. Jones had to make a split second decision, and I do not believe that his intent was malicious. Whether Bergeron turned into a more vulnerable position at the last second, or the Jones-Bergeron interaction was an instance of bad timing all around, I do believe that Jones was punished appropriately.
And if the NHL is serious about combating hitting from behind, I urge them to be proactive and follow the educated lead of Junior Hockey and post a stop sign on the backs of player’s jerseys. Alas, we know that the aforementioned tall foreheads in the NHL offices would never do something so simple and so smart. They specialize in reacting after the negative publicity, and to expect differently after this near miss would be foolish.
For Illegal Curve, I am Andrew M.
About the writer: Formerly a speech writer for a Canadian Federal Politician, Andrew will be bringing his unique take on the hockey world to the illegal curve blog once a week, or more often if the rage needs to be released in a manner other than clobbering a referee over the head with a whiskey bottle. Mainly because he doesn’t have enough empty whiskey bottles at his disposal.