Claude Lemieux, Sean Avery, Bobby Clarke, Matt Cooke, Dale Hunter, Ulf Samuelsson, Raffi Torres, Steve Downie, Bryan Marchment, Ken Liseman… When reading that list of names, what immediately comes to mind if you are a fan of the NHL? Yes, those players were all dirty, weaselly and underhanded and they have made a reputation with the way they played the game.
But also, all of those guys did, at one point or another, receive lengthily suspensions for their actions and many of them were not protected the way today’s players are, both by the rules and by the NHL itself. Since the new implementation of the Instigator Rule, rats are running free and in spite of a promise from the league to better reprimand the guilty, the powers at be are simply dropping the ball instead. Players have never been as vulnerable to a new race of players: the Rats under the NHL Players’ Safety protection program!
And none is benefiting more from that protection than the biggest rat of all in today’s hockey: Brad Marchand. You don’t believe me? Look for yourself!
So why is the NHL protecting that guy so much? Just before the All-Star break, Marchand was issued a $10,000 fine for his cheap shot on Niklas Kronwall. A week or so later, he shows that he hasn’t learned his lessons and does the same to Tampa Bay Lightning’s defenseman Anton Stralman. And what does the NHL Player Safety do? Nothing. That’s right, no fine, no suspension, nothing!
There has to be something going on here. There have to be Governors around the league wondering why this guy is allowed to do what he does, and players from their own teams are being suspended for what sometimes appear to be much less, and without being repeat offenders! I mean fans, coaches, reporters (other than the Bruins’) are all outraged of what certainly appears to be a huge case of injustice and even favouritism. Does Bruins’ owner Jeremy Jacobs have some compromising pictures of league commissioner Gary Bettman? We know that they are good friends but how can everyone around the NHL not raise a fuss about this?
In the meantime, players can’t defend themselves without putting their team in a very difficult position, in a league where a win or a loss is worth so much due to the parity. And yet, the league itself refuses to protect them! It’s a lose, lose situation… unless you are the Boston Bruins that is.