Thursday, September 13, 2007

Kick A Man When He's Down

Gary Bettman decides to get off his ass and actually does some commissioner work at the expense of the Toronto Maple Leafs and crashing their 2007 RBK Edge uniform debut party. The man decides to suspend newly acquired Toronto Maple Leaf Mark Bell after a big indiscretion on his part. The man drove drunk, injured another person via a car accident and left the scene of a crime. Those are pretty bad charges. Bell agrees to the charges, pleads guilty, gets 6 months in jail and has to enroll into the NHL substance abuse program without pay. That is pretty hefty sanctions taken against him and that is all by the California State justice system. Then on the biggest media day for the Toronto Maple Leafs the Commissioner lays down a 15 game suspension on Mark Bell. Ridiculous! I can understand if this has been done before and was to be expected but it was clearly out of left field. No precedence exists regarding any type of game suspensions involving NHL players and off ice activity. There are two larger cases to look at regarding NHL players and their off ice activities. I am referring to Theo Fleury and Dany Heatley. Both cases are different but Dany Heatley killed his teammate even though accidental. And Theo Fleury has been in and out of the substance abuse program until he left the NHL. This is nothing more than kicking a man when he is down. And give him an extra kick just to make sure he stays there. Theo Fleury has been a resident mainstay in the substance abuse program until he left and this is practically like the same case.

A few years ago I was arguing that Theo Fleury was still a great player and that all everyone was doing was poking him in the face. Just poking him and poking him, and what happens when people just keep poking you? You fight back, that is all he was doing and he was labeled a bad guy and washed up. Yes it was due to some of his problems but if you keep poking and prodding the man he is just going to lash out.

Mark Bell spoke yesterday saying that this is fair and he will abide by it, but it is complete bull. All of the people to start a precedent pick the one NHL Player who didn’t kill anyone and one who is actually going to repay his debt to society by spending time in jail. I could argue and agree to the points that this is just to set up future action against other players who decide to get in trouble off the ice.

I understand you can not go back and revise history but to just start handing out suspensions now is the wrong time. Start with Rick Tocchet or if Jay Bouwmeester faces no jail time, then start by suspending him. How many more penalties are going to be handed out to Mark Bell? How about suspending Mark Bell for doing interviews with the wrong colour tie, that should be worth 25 Games.

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