November 01, 2010

Suspension Reinvention

When I heard Daniel Briere only got a 3 game suspension for his attempted decapitation of New York Islanders forward Franz Nielson, I was shocked.

So was Daniel Briere. I almost lost it when I heard Briere expressing his complete surprise and displeasure with the suspension:
"More shocked. I think surprised is not strong enough. Honestly, I'm shocked. I honestly didn't think I would get more than, after everything else, all of the suspensions that have been handed out the last couple of years and this year, honestly, I didn't think I was going to get a game. Then I thought, ok yes I am a repeat offender, they'll probably give me a game because of it. I'm shocked that it was more than a game."
I was shocked it was not more. As far as I am concerned, the only difference between the Briere incident and the Marty McSorley-Donald Brasher incident a few years back was the victim was not seriously injured. The intent was very much the same. If you want to take scary attacks like that out of the game you have to punish by intent, not effect. And there has to be a set standard of punishment.

Now I concede Briere's biggest punishment is the loss salary. He is out nearly 1/4 of a million bucks! I don't care if he makes well over $7 million a year, that is a significant chunk of change. There is a school of thought out there that the NHL would have suspended Briere - a repeat offender - more harshly in terms of time off the ice had his forfeited salary not been so high.

Which leads me to an idea. It's time to change the suspension formula. Cap lost salary at, say, a percentage of the player's income per incident, but allow him to continue a suspension beyond that point. If Briere had to sit out 6 or more games, a sentence I feel would be more adequate, he is hurting his team significantly.

This would better allow the NHL to punish for intent rather than outcome. Perhaps even more importantly this would allow the NHL to set actual standards for various transgressions. If you attack a player with your stick, you automatically sit out 10 games, regardless of how badly the victim is injured. If you blindside a guy, it is 5 games, or whatever.

There has to be some standards finally set on these issues, and they have to start punishing based on intent rather than injury.

1 comment:

mickloud said...

Speaking as a Flyers fan, as an isolated incident, I too am surprised Briere didn't get more games. However, when compared with the other suspensions/non-suspensions handed out by the NHL, it's just another day in the league disciplinary office.

Briere, cited as being a "repeat offender" got 3 games. Yet Cooke got nothing? Gonchar got nothing on Clutterbuck. Orr, nothing on Green. Hjalmarsson only got 2 games? Has Perry EVER been suspended for any of his questionable hits? Kunitz's x-check to Varlamov's neck wasn't even called on the ice, let alone suspended!

So yes, I think everyone agrees the NHL absolutely needs to set some standards when it comes to these dangerous hits, but you could make that point without your petty anti-Philly rant (comparing this to McSorley? really?)... in fact, you could start with ranting about the examples posted above, but I won't hold my breath.

Briere calls a spade a spade with his "I think that they need to find a way to have the same standards for everyone." quote, but I see that didn't make the blog, because that would actually expose a serious and relevant debate!

Really, it's amazing to me Campbell isn't the subject here.. a man that consistently and publicly contradicts himself and his reasoning with each ruling he hands down... a guy that is clearly making it up as he goes along.