Mr. Smith's Neighborhood

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Brashear Gets His Wrist Slapped and Butt Kissed by Soupy April 27, 2009

Puck Daddy Gets it Wrong … Again

First, the news: Donald Brashear, noted hockey goon and executioner for the Washington Capitals, received a six-game suspension for his blind-sided shot to the head of New York Rangers Center Blair Betts. The suspension was issued by NHL Senior Executive Vice President and Director of Hockey Operations Colin “Soupy” Campbell.

This suspension is, in essence, another win-win situation for the Capitals. Brashear does little to contribute to the success of the Capitals. On the other hand, Betts brings speed to the Rangers fourth line and is arguably one of the better penalty killers in the league. Others much wiser than me have suggested that Brashear’s knock-out of Betts may have indirectly contributed to two power play goals by the Capitals in their 5-3 win in Game 6 on Sunday.

Since Betts will definitely miss Game 7, the trade-off is that the Caps lose Brashear and the Rangers lose Betts. Who do you think wins that trade-off? The hockey gods at Puck Daddy would have you believe that the punishment fit the crime and this suspension was “another” (???) stroke of genius by Soupy. Just like the death penalty, this “landmark” (???) suspension would serve as a deterrent. The gang at Puck Daddy really needs to stop planting their lips on Soupy’s ample arse and must bring an end to their chemical dependencies before it is too late.

In the meantime, I guess I should be flattered that Puck Daddy threw my humble little blog a link yesterday, even though the editor felt compelled to misinform readers of my intent. Quoted from the Monday Morning Headlines: A contrarian view on the John Tortorella suspension, which calls our analysis “lame” and then argues that the NHL is fixing the series to increase television ratings. Written from the co-pilot’s seat of a black helicopter hovering over Area 51.

It must be hard for them to write such pearls of wisdom in-between dropping and raising those baskets of fries into and from the tasty oil bath at McDonald’s.

For the record, I responded to Puck Daddy’s statement that “the punishment fit the crime” regarding Rangers Head Coach John Tortorella’s one-game suspension for his stupid antics (see Soupy Blows It Again). My argument, although admittedly not clear in the article but later clarified in comments, is that Tortorella deserved to be punished but the punishment issued by Soupy was not appropriate. Common sense says that Tortorella should have been heavily fined, fired after the season was over, and then subjected to criminal prosecution and civil suits if appropriate. My issue with Soupy was that he punished the Ranger players, not Tortorella. This is a team that is mentally messed-up, and the whole scenario just added to their emotional fatigue.

This attack on the Rangers psyche may seem like an insignificant issue but, as I also mentioned in comments about yesterday’s article, the 1994 Stanley Cup winners almost choked away a 3-1 series lead when it was learned that Head Coach Mike Keenan was talking to other teams for the following season. That Ranger team had tougher guys than the current team but still almost blew it (thank God they won Game 7). The emotional and mental impact on the Rangers with the suspension of Tortorella was more detrimental to the team than the suspension was to Tortorella. So, again, who was Campbell punishing? It looks like he missed the target (unless, like me, you believe that he did hit the target that he was aiming at).

The second issue is that Soupy and the NHL declined to take action against the Capitals and their security personnel. This is another calculated step by Soupy … he has rewarded the Caps for their bad security and inability to control fans around the bench. The Rangers, as has been too common, get the short end of the stick from Soupy once again and you can be sure that the level of mental torment has been increased.

However, some observers would have you believe that it is wrong for Ranger fans to feel like the table is slanted towards the Capitals. Even a second-grader could tell you that that is based upon are feelings, beliefs and past history … not hard facts based on admissions by St. Soupy and the Holy Bettman. But saying that the Brashear suspension fits the crime … well, it really is a drug-induced hallucination to justify another major screw-up by Campbell.

A real deterrent would be that Brashear would have been suspended as long as Betts is injured PLUS an allotted amount of games. That would be a deterrent. There is no way that you can equate the loss of a Blair Betts with the loss of a goon like Brashear. Nobody will miss Brashear, but Betts’ absence leaves a gaping hole in a Rangers team facing an almost impossible challenge of Game 7 in Washington. What do you think the suspension would be if Sean Avery or Colton Orr did the same thing to the sacred Ovechkin?

Note that I did not suggest a banishment for Brashear, although that might be appropriate in other circumstances. Hockey is a game with physical contact and there will be injuries from contact, whether the conact is incidental or deliberate. As I have argued for a long time, the “intent-to-injure” and the new “hit-to-the-head” injuries must be handled with more deliberate recourse than a six-game suspension. An “eye-for-an-eye” approach may or may not be a good approach, but I have always liked a line by John Forsythe in one of my favorite movies, And Justice for All … “maybe the punishment should be worse than the crime.”

That thought may not make sense all the time because we, as humans, could use more compassion and forgiveness. But it does make sense when a moron like Brashear causes an injury that, in all likelihood, may haunt Blair Betts for the rest of his life.

Also, if you want to believe that the NHL does not have a vested interested in assuring that either Sidney Crosby or Alex Ovechkin make it to the Cup Finals, you are delusional. Go back and check the rating when the Devils were playing in the Finals. That is not a slap at the Devil fans … there just aren’t a lot of them around.


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