The game of hockey is a violent one where men play with all of their hearts. Sometimes these men let their emotions take control and act in a way that is unusual and inappropriate. Violence has been apart of hockey as long as the game has been played and violence in the NHL is tolerated to a certain extent. But when violence causes injury to other players, the NHL takes harsh and stern measures to correct the problem. This essay will further investigate the violent acts caused by Marty McSorley, Gary Suter and what the NHL is doing and what they can do to prevent violence in the game.
Marty McSorley is a prime example of a competitor in the NHL who has used extreme acts of violence in the past. McSorley was a defenseman on the Boston Bruins during the 1999/2000 season. On February 21, 2000 the Vancouver Canucks were playing host to a struggling Boston Bruins team who was out of a playoff spot and were only going downwards. There was twenty seconds left in the game with the pitiful Bruins down 5-2 when the assistant coach of the Bruins Jacques Laperriere sent the tough guy on the ice to send a message to the Canucks that the Bruins will never quite no matter what the score or time.
McSorley was all ready aggravated form a fight that took place earlier on in the game with McSorley on the losing end of the battle with Donald Brashear. Marty McSorley knew that the Bruins were not going to win, so there was nothing else to lose. With three seconds left in the lop sided game, McSorley approached Brashear on the Canucks blue line and gave him a two handed chop across his head with his stick. Brashear fell to the ice and hit his head with enough force to nock him unconscious. The players on the ice at the time took exception to this and a brawl broke out between the Canuck players and the Bruin players.
Once the referees sorted out the mess and the game was over, the commissioner of the NHL Gary Bettman went right to work sorting out McSorleys punishment. Once the dust had cleared and everything had settled down, the boss gave McSorly a 23 game suspension that would last the rest of the regular season along with a $72,000 fine. If the punishment laid out by the NHL was not enough Marty McSorley was charged with assault with a weapon on Tuesday March 7, 2000 and had to appear before the British Columbia Provincial Court.
After a week in court judge Bill Kitchen handed Marty McSorley an 18 month conditional discharge, which would not allow McSorley to play against Brashear during this time. After the trial judge Kitchen said everyone must understand that this type of violence will not be tolerated either on the streets or in the hockey arena. Mcsorley has now served his punishment and is trying to make a come back into the NHL. McSorley may or may not have learned his lesson but only time will tell.
Another horrific act of violence that must be look at was the brutal coss-check that Paul Kariya received from Chicago Defenseman Gary Suter. The Anaheim Mighty Ducks were at home to the Chicago Blackhawks on February 1, 1998 when in the second period Gary Suter came charging around the Blackhawks net and cross-checked the Mighty Ducks winger Paul Kariya in the head. Kariya was standing in front of the Blackhawks net trying to jam in a rebound and just as the puck crossed the goal line Suter came roaring by with a vicious cross-check to the head, sending Kariya to the ice.
After being treated by a doctor in Anaheim the next day the diagnoses was that Kariya had suffered a grade one concussion. This is the worst kind of concussion and forced Kariya to miss the Nagano Winter Olympics. Kariya also missed the rest of the NHL season(28 games) because of post-concussion syndrome. The most surprising thing of the whole incident may be that the culprit Gary Suter only received a four game suspension and a $1,000 fine. Most people who saw this incident and the Marty McSorley incident would say that this one is just as severe, yet Suter received only a fraction of what McSorley received.
The chief disciplinarian Brian Burke state on February 13, 1998 that if he knew the extent of Kariyas injuries at the time they handed down the punishment it would have been much more severe than four games. He also said I cannot change the suspension because it would violate an agreement between the NHL and the NHL Players Association. Luckily Paul Kariya made a full recovery from has injury but one can only wonder if Brian Burke was sincere in his comments or was he only trying to make himself look good after letting Suter off so easily. It seems that violence in the sport of hockey is becoming a re-occurring incident in the NHL.
It also seems that the violent acts are becoming more and more serious. Some people would suggest that violence in the game has not change but it is the media that brings the violent acts to the attention of the public. Others would say that the players today are bigger and stronger and are able to afflict more pain and punishment to fellow players. Either way the NHL must put a halt to the hazardous stick work and violent acts committed by the NHL players. The NHL is at least trying to stop violence by handing out stern punishment to players who break the rules.
Marty McSorly received the longest suspension in NHL history (23 games) for his slash to the head of Donald Brashear. Another harsh suspension was given th Brad May of the Phoenix Coyotes after slashing Steve Heinze Of the Columbus Blue Jackets in the face. May received 20 games for his slash which happened November 16, 2000. A former NHL player and now owner of the Pittsburgh Penguins Mario Lemieux who retired three years ago because of violence, clutching and grabbing, now feels that the NHL has cut back on all of these things and is going to make a return to the game, This may say something about the NHLs attempt to stop violence.
Lemieux is one of the greatest players to ever play and it would be a good thing for the NHL to get him back. They could possibly put together a program to teach young players of the sport not to use violence on the ice. If a superstar like Lemieux worked on it, violence in the game of hockey may diminish as the years go on. The NHL must work very hard and they must send a message to all players that violence will no longer be accepted. If they are really serious, they must put everything they have into ending violence so the game can be played the way it is meant to be played.
The game of hockey may or may not be meant to be played violently depending on your views but as long as people and players are getting hurt the NHL must do something to cut back on violence in the game. Emotions may be running high while these men play the game they love but hitting someone in the face with a stick is not acceptable and there should be serious consequences to pay. The NHL must put an end to the stick work and brutal violence before it is too late, before someone loses their life on the ice.