November 21, 2017
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Gary Bettman speaks to the media about player safety in a meeting in New York (12/06/12)

NHL Failing To Protect Its Reputation

The NHL hasn’t been all that fair in the past week with their judgements of on ice actions, and is very deserving of heavy criticism.

Gary Bettman and others haven’t been so consistent with their suspensions and consequences during the first week of the 2015-16′ Stanley Cup Playoffs, and are pushing a bad example on their judiciary values as front-runners of the league.

In game three of the first round series between the Washington Capitals and the Philidelphia Flyers, Forward Pierre-Edouard Bellemare chased Capitals defenseman Dmitry Orlov for a puck, and drove him violently into the boards without any hesitation to stop. Bellemare saw Orlov’s back the entire play, and could have killed him, in a worse case scenario. The play resulted in a game misconduct and a checking from behind penalty, without any doubt the NHL would take a look to determine a punishment.

As a result, Bellemare was given a one game suspension for his violent act, which could have and should have been more, considering Orlov could’ve been seriously hurt by going head first into the boards.

One day later during the Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Rangers third game, defenseman Kris Letang of the Penguins was fighting for a puck in the right corner, where he would violently take his stick and slash Rangers forward Viktor Stalberg in the neck/throat area, causing him to fall and eventually skate to the bench. As obvious as the call should have been, and since it wasn’t pursued by the refs, the NHL had an opportunity to look at the situation and did nothing about it.

That play had somewhat of a similarity of Duncan Keith’s suspension of the Chicago Blackhawks when he slashed Charlie Coyle of the Minnesota Wild across the face with his stick in a dangerous affair out of retaliation. Keith got six games in result, and was a huge loss for the Hawks heading into the postseason. This gave subject to Letang’s incident, and was just as dangerous as his stick was flung towards the throat of Stalberg, but the NHL didn’t seem to mind.

The most recent event that occurred during game four of the Chicago Blackhawks and St. Louis Blues series was a total accident and got a lot of criticism for not that big of a reason. Forward Andrew Shaw was in a heated moment of the game, where tensions were rising and players were fighting left and right. In a chippy game and being the agitator Shaw is, he slipped out a gay slur supposedly to a ref and caught heat for it fast.

Shaw didn’t even realize what he said because he was so caught in the moment, and didn’t realize what he had done. He easily just slipped out a word that wasnt being thrown towards the gay community, as he used it as an expression with no intent of offense. Not that what he did was right– which it wasn’t, the NHL went harsh on Shaw, giving him a one game suspension and a $5,000 fine.

This lead to one speculator to ask, are words really that more hurtful to the leagues reputation than the violent and possible injury causing plays that we’ve seen compared to Shaw’s remarks?

The ridiculous answer is yes.

The NHL is hell of a lot more worried about slurs and players actions regarding their voice, rather than health and discipline of their actions on the ice, based on this week alone.

If Shaw’s little ‘slip up’ which caused him a one game suspension is the same to Bellemare’s hit on Orlov, then there’s a serious problem within the league. It’s absolutely absurd that a hit that can possibly kill a player has the same consequence as a players voice that wouldn’t have even been a problem of the camera’s didn’t catch him saying so.

In all understanding of the league trying to save themselves from embarrassment and the worry of losing association with the gay and lesbian community, they needed to give Shaw some kind of consequence, but to keep it the same level of a violent play, and to ignore more violent plays compared to this is absolutely disgusting, and can’t be ignored.

The NHL is failing to fix its supposed ‘reputation’ problem, and should be more worried about players actions rather than words they say without realization. Player safety should come first and foremost because after all, they are making them all the money.

–Follow me on Twitter for more NHL insight @Johnaubert97

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