NHL Makes a Joke Out of Itself by Fining Shea Weber
Anyone visiting NHL.com today might be questioning why an article seemingly written by parody news website TheOnion.com is featured on the league's homepage.
The only problem is, the article is not a joke; it is actual news being reported by the NHL.
Shea Weber is being fined $2,500 instead of suspended for a blatant cheap shot.
During opening night of the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Nashville Predators captain made a mistake that should have cost him much more than it did.
What happened was a clear intent to cause harm and was not a hockey play in any way.
It was not a questionably late hit, a possible accidental elbow, or a boarding play that resulted from someone putting themselves in a poor position. This was an attack and nothing else.
The NHL decided that for Weber's troubles, he would be charged roughly 0.03 percent of his $7.5 million salary this year.
Just to give an idea of the fine's severity, consider this; 0.03 percent of a $30,000 annual salary is $9.00 Would a $9.00 fine make you think twice about doing this to someone at your manual labor job?
The league might as well pay Weber $2,500; that amount of money is so insignificant it is not going to make a difference to him.
What's even more ridiculous about the fine in relation to Weber is how it stacks up relative to others handed out this season.
Tortorella was fined on two separate occasions this season; $30,000 for comments made about the Winter Classic and $20,000 for criticizing the Pittsburgh Penguins.
After the Winter Classic, Tortorella questioned a number of penalty calls. The exact wording, from Yahoo.com's Puck Daddy blog:
"I'm not sure if NBC got together with the refs to turn this into an overtime game... It started with the non-call [when] Gabby was pitch-forked in the stomach, and then everything starts going against us. They're two good referees; I thought the game was refereed horribly. So I'm not sure what happened there. Maybe they wanted to get it to an overtime. I'm not sure if they have meetings about that or what. But we stood in there. They're good guys. But in that third period, it was disgusting."
Late in the regular season, Tortorella criticized the Penguins and Brooks Orpik for a knee-on-knee hit, saying:
"It's a cheap, dirty hit. I wonder what would happen if we did it to their two whining stars over there. I wonder what would happen. So I'm anxious to see what happens with the league with this. Just not respect amongst players. None. It's sickening. (The Penguins) whine about this stuff all of the time, and look what happens? It's ridiculous. But they'll whine about something else over there, won't they?
Was Weber's punishment enough?
So let's clear this up; a head coach used his mouth to criticize questionable penalty calls and express disapproval in a rival team. He was fined a total of $50,000.
The highest-paid defenseman in the NHL used a player's face to bang on the glass and was fined a total of $2,500.
Now, it is the highest amount a player can be fined due to the NHL's collective bargaining agreement, but it is clearly not enough of a punishment, which is why a suspension should have been given.
Earlier this season, Zac Rinaldo of the Philadelphia Flyers was suspended two games for what was deemed to be a charging incident on Detroit's Jonathan Ericsson.
The explanation given for the hit: Rinaldo left his feet.
So, come off the ice in what would otherwise be a clean hit on a Detroit player equals a two game suspension. Blatantly smashing a Detroit player's face into the glass equals no suspension.
The league's disciplinary actions in these cases is not only baffling, but idiotic.
Commenting on questionable officiating? Not allowed.
Calling out a team for a history of dirty plays and whining? Don't even think about it.
An unwarranted cheap shot at the end of a game? Small fee.
If anyone on Detroit feels like smashing a Nashville player's face into the glass at the end of Game 2, he'll probably have to pay just $2,500.
If Detroit criticizes the NHL (or the Penguins) in any way, shape or form? Probably a $20,000 fine.
Way to go, Gary Bettman and Brendan Shanahan. You're keeping hockey classy for all who follow.
Jason Sapunka covers the NHL, he is available on Twitter for updates and commentary.
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