It only takes one event.
In my book TRASHED I talk about the international political controversy that erupted when, as a result of the ridiculous and unfounded pressure from former NDP Councillor Jack Layton and his other left wing supporters, the City of Toronto failed to sign a contract that had been awarded to Rail Cycle North to ship garbage to the Adams Mine in Kirkland Lake. Instead, Toronto sent 100% of its waste to Michigan.
The ensuing battle included all levels of government in Ontario, Michigan and the United States Congress. This week we are seeing another event of international proportions that may be the “straw that breaks the camel’s back” however, this time it is in our national sport of hockey.
In a game between Boston Bruins and the Montreal Canadians, 6’9” Zedeno Chara of Boston rubbed out Montreal forward Max Pacioretty along the boards. Unfortunately he hit the turnbuckle between the player’s benches which resulted in a concussion and a slight fracture to his neck.
Hits to the head and concussions have become a serious issue in all sports and this hit has created an international incident for the sport. It has been made worse because, while Chara was given a major penalty and a game misconduct, the NHL did not see fit to level any additional punishment or suspension. Everyone is jumping on the bandwagon, all bad for the NHL. (Pacioretty is out of the hospital; he’s resting at home and is not calling for any additional actions against Chara.)
But here comes the politics. Air Canada has threatened to withdraw sponsorship of the league and the Molson’s owners of the Canadians are screaming. Many players have finally started to speak out publicly and there are accusations of favouritism to the Bruins because the owners are tight with Commissioner Gary Bettman. Prime Minister Harper, a huge hockey fan, has jumped in and the Montreal police have opened an investigation.
I follow all sports fairly closely and have coached a bit of AAA hockey. My thoughts: First, I cannot stand Commissioner Gary Bettman. I find him a self-serving little guy who has stubbornly stuck to a business model to see hockey developed in places in the United States that are not sustainable, rather than in locations in Canada where fan support is superior. However, in this instance, dispute the huge outcry, he is supporting the decision of his staff, and he is right.
If you watched the hit (and understand the game) it is not evident to me that Chara had any intention of injuring Pacioretty. As can happen, and has happened many times in hockey, that location between the benches, where there is no glass, is a dangerous place. In my view it was an accident and Bettman is right to stand up for the decision that was made. As in the politics of garbage, the “environmentalists” cannot run the show.
However, in my view, this will be the “straw that breaks the camel’s back” regarding hits to the head and that is very positive. The discipline will get tougher, the rules will change and I think the players themselves will, and should, take greater responsibility for what happens on the ice regarding head shots.
TRASHED! How Political Garbage Made the United States Canada’s Largest Dump