Tuesday, June 7, 2011

New NHL Discipline Comes Through

Surprisingly, the new setup for league discipline seems to be working ... now the big test will come down to it's consistency league-wide (and if Brendan Shanahan continues with what the interim has set forth), so I don't think we'll immediately see the effects.

I'm sure most of you have at least heard about, if not seen, the nasty [LATE] hit Canucks Aaron Rome laid on Bruins Nathan Horton.

Horton (Boston)
The hit left Horton dazed on the ice for a few seconds before he was wheeled off on a stretcher and transported to the Mass General Hospital where he was admitted for overnight observation.  It was later reported that he suffered a severe concussion (and luckily it wasn't worse even though it was bad enough). 

Prior to the NHL handing down Rome's punishment, the Bruins announced that Horton would be out for the rest of the Stanley Cup final.

Rome (Vancouver)
The league announced they gave Rome a 4-game suspension which I believe is only fair (it's the same length of time for both players; the only difference being that the players are somewhat unmatched in terms of talent for their teams and, more devastating, Horton may suffer consequences far beyond the end of the playoffs).  But here's the beauty of this decision (and where it appears the league is serious about turning this around):  if it takes less than four games to win the Cup, the suspension will extend into the beginning of next season - message sent (and a step in the right direction for the league).  Now let's hope the message is received.
"Two factors were considered in reaching this decision," said NHL Senior Vice President of Hockey Operations Mike Murphy. "The hit by Rome was clearly beyond what is acceptable in terms of how late it was delivered after Horton had released the puck and it caused a significant injury."
The process for determining Rome's punishment seems simple enough (and full of common sense), but the impact of this decision on the future of hits like these in the NHL is only as strong as the league's consistency and it's commitment to back it up.  For the sake of players safety (and Nathan Horton along with the rest of the players who have already suffered the consequences), let's hope this is a positive turning point.

No comments: