Setting the precedent

The Boston Bruins play a style of hockey that lower levels don’t dare dream of. It’s the hockey that most players are penalized, tossed out of games and suspended for. Hiding under the guise of phrases such as “hockey play”, “finishing his check” and similar cliches have served the NHL well in their all-around inconsistencies where harsh penalties and suspensions are concerned. While one player from one team is suspended for what is commonly known as a “blind side hit”, a Bruin, under the same exact set of circumstances, earns a ‘get out of jail free’ card.

Chara was given a five-minute major for interference and a game misconduct, where he should have received a suspensionfor his hit on Pacioretty. There seems to be a double standard where this team is concerned. They continuously get away with things other teams are reprimanded for. Joe Thornton (of the San Jose Sharks) was quoted as saying:  “It’s just something with Boston,” Thornton told the Globe and Mail. “It just seems like they have a horseshoe. We’ve seen the [Milan] Lucic cross-check to the head (of  Maxim Lapierre) earlier, and there’s no disciplinary thing.”.

When it comes to disciplinary actions where the Boston Bruins are concerned, the NHL’s vice president of hockey operations, Colin Campbell must step aside, due to conflict of interest, as his son, Gregory Campbell plays for that team. In Colin’s place, however, is his best friend, Mike Murphy. No conflict of interest? What about after Campbell’s choice to step down from his disciplinary position, when Murphy was forced with the decision to suspend Aaron Rome for a late hit, injuring Nathan Horton in game 3? Word spread pretty quickly (and lightly, I might add) about Murphy consulting with Toronto Maple Leafs’ General Manager, Brian Burke, regarding the action to be taken, but apparently, not the hit itself. Burke admitted that the Horton hit was never discussed. Perhaps Burke had been out golfing or somehow completely tuned out to the world around him, especially the hockey world, completely oblivious to what had happened, to not know who Murphy would have been referring to.

The action is “late hit, injuring another player” (like what happened to Pacioretty that Chara was not suspended for because it was an “unfortunate accident”, a “hockey play”). Is there no limit to the objects in and around the ice surface that can be blamed when a Bruin severely injures someone with their “hockey play”? Every time a Bruin is involved in a play that results in injury to the opposing team’s player, we hear a whole new set of hockey phrases (soon to be cliches), cover-ups and excuses. Nary a suspension to the innocent Bruins.

Which brings me to the conclusion and point to my title; the NHL, allowing the Bruins to play this style of hockey, have set the precedent for other teams and leagues. After having lost one American team this year, is it the NHL’s goal now to capitalize on maximum amount of fanfare, at the expense of severely injured players? Is this truly what fans want to see; violence at every turn? Are profits so low that the NHL has to set a precedence with the Bruins leading the way? Is this the hockey we all love and want to see? With the Bruins on top, is the precedent set for teams to goon up or get out? What is this telling lower levels of hockey? Most importantly, what is this telling parents of children who want to play this game, who love the game of hockey as a sport? Is this step 1 in the transition between the hockey we know and what’s soon to be the UFC on ice?