Sometimes when former pro athletes are hired as analysts they have a tendency to go easy on the players. NBC (that’s us!) analyst Jeremy Roenick doesn’t seem to have that bias.
In a blog for NHL.com on the subject of concussions, Roenick singled out a handful of current players for their dangerous hits, and didn’t exactly mince his words in the process.
We can no longer ignore the stupidity of the hits that are still happening today despite the fact that the players know the concussion aspect is such a big part of the game and sports in general.
You saw Chris Stewart get suspended for hitting Niklas Kronwall from behind. You saw Andy Sutton get suspended for jumping in the air — a 6-foot-6 and 240-pound defenseman jumping in the air — to hit Alexei Ponikarovsky. These hits are absolutely unnecessary and the stupidity is beyond belief.
Brendan Shanahan probably never thought he would be so busy doling out suspensions because of the lack of intelligence of so many players in very dangerous situations.
We hear about the respect factor all the time in hockey. If you ask most former players, they’ll say today’s players don’t respect each other like they used to. Whether or not that’s true is debatable. Older generations frequently believe things were better back in the day.
But if it is true, the question becomes, why was there more respect before? What was the mentality of the players? Was there more peer pressure to keep each other honest? Did the older guys take the younger guys aside and say stuff like, “Hey, we’re all in this together. Cool it out there”?
Maybe that’s something the NHLPA needs to explore.
The Los Angeles Kings and Mike Richards may be nearing a settlement in their dispute over Richards’ terminated contract, TSN’s Bob McKenzie is reporting.
You can read the report for all the details, but we’re sure curious about this part:
If a settlement is reached, there’s no word yet on what salary cap penalties the Kings would still face. There’s bound to be something, but not likely as onerous as the full value of Richards’ contract, which carries with it a cap hit of $5.75 million. If there’s a settlement, Richards would undoubtedly become a free agent though there’s no telling at this point what monies he would be entitled to from the Kings in a settlement.
The issue here is precedent, and what this case could set. The NHL and NHLPA can’t allow teams to escape onerous contracts through a back door, and many are adamant that that’s what the Kings were attempting to do in Richards’ case.
The NHL wants to take an educational approach — not a punitive one — to deter its players from using illicit drugs like cocaine.
“My interest is not to go around punishing people,” Bettman told Sportsnet today.
“My interest is getting players to understand the consequences of doing something that could jeopardize this great, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that they’ve been given, to play in the NHL.”
While some players have expressed surprise at hearing that cocaine use is growing, the anecdotal evidence of substance abuse has been very much in the news, from Jarret Stoll‘s arrest to Mike Richards’ arrest to, more recently, Zack Kassian‘s placement in the NHL/NHLPA’s treatment program.
“We don’t have the unilateral right to do things here. We need the consent of the Players’ Association,” Bettman said. “It’s not about punishment. It’s about making sure we get it to stop.”
Related: Cocaine in the NHL: A concern, but not a crisis?