Even the nature of the hits has changed—where once attacks came from elbows, shoulders, and fists, now there's an increasing tendency to use sticks.
And something has to be done about it.
Commissioner Gary Bettman seems to believe that longer suspensions will solve the problem. I'm not so sure. In watching a sport talk show last night, I think I may have been turned onto a more constructive penalty.
Marty McSorley's infamous whack at Donald Brashear's head seems to have been the trigger for the latest wave of violence—since that incident, the number of brutal attacks has increased dramatically.
Outside a hockey rink, many of the more egregious assaults would have led to criminal charges—with prison terms, community service, and psychological therapy being handed down in sentences.
And there's the constructive idea, as proposed by one of the panelists on the show:
Why not mandate anger management sessions with every 20-game suspension? If you ask me, the NHL's disciplinary division would do well to consider it.
The nature of the violations has changed, and it follows that the penalties should too. Some players—Jesse Boulerice, for instance—could obviously use some counseling. Plus, the therapy mandate would make the suspension VERY dissuasive.
After all, any NHL goon would think twice before swinging his stick at someone's head if knew it meant having to see a shrink.