With the decision made today by Gary Bettman to suspend Sean Avery for six games, the NHL has officially failed to correct the mistake they originally made three days ago.
Following his comments prior to the Dallas Stars' away game at Calgary on December First, Avery was immediately suspended indefinitely by the NHL. The indefinite suspension lasted through two regular season games, and was announced today as a six game suspension following a hearing between Avery and Bettman yesterday in New York.
While it was right for the NHL to take disciplinary action against Avery for his comments, the length of the suspension is an absolute shame, and an outright insult to every player to have laced up the skates in the NHL.
If looked upon as a single incident, and without comparison to any other suspensions in the NHL over the last few years, one can argue that the discipline is just.
We don't, however, have the luxury of avoiding comparison. With the suspension handed down to Avery today, the NHL has made it blatantly obvious that the squeaky clean image of the league is much more important than the safety of it's players.
When it comes to assault in the NHL - although sticks, stones, and hits from behind may break your bones, words will get you suspended.
No matter what the NHL was trying to accomplish with its lengthy banishment of Avery, the fact that it has yet to do anything similar with more important matters is baffling.
Too many times over the last few seasons has the NHL outright failed its players. Too many times has the NHL proven that money trumps safety. For a league that prides itself on clean and physical play, the NHL has failed miserably in its attempt to promote that very style.
It has been an all too frequent sight this season, as in those past, to see a player lying crumpled on the ice. Whether it be via a hit from behind, elbow to the head, or cross-check to the face, the NHL has been mediocre at best in it's discipline of the offenders.
Patrice Bergeron, a budding young star centre for the Boston Bruins, lost an entire season to injury last year after becoming the victim of a devastating hit from behind by Randy Jones of the Philadelphia Flyers. An entire season for Bergeron, and a two game suspension for Jones.
Mike Van Ryn, playing on the blue line for the Toronto Maple Leafs, has been out of action since November eighth, following a Tom Kostopoulos hit-from-behind special. Kostopoulos' suspension? A mere three games.
Chris Pronger of the Anaheim Ducks, suspended seven times in his 14 NHL career. Received two one-game suspensions during the 2007 playoffs after vicious hits to the head on both Detroit's Tomas Holmstrom and Ottawa's Dean McAmmond.
If we are to add up Jones' and Kostopolous' suspensions, they still would not equal the suspension that Avery received for using the term "sloppy seconds" to describe Elisha Cuthbert. In what is a true disgrace to the players of the National Hockey League, Gary Bettman has failed once again.
I guess if it doesn't hit YouTube, it doesn't really matter.