I am sure you've heard a number of differing opinions on the NHL's disappointing decision to not punish Philadelphia's Wayne Simmonds for the homophobic slur uttered at the Rangers' Sean Avery Monday night. Yeah, I don't think anyone was too surprised at this outcome when it was announced that instead of new sheriff Brendan Shanahan handling the disciplinary hearing, it would be his predecessor Colin 'Lazy Eye' Campbell. And despite what seemed to be pretty compelling video evidence, Campbell stated that there was inconclusive evidence and as such, no further discipline. Really? Stevie Wonder could read Simmonds' lips. It was obvious. It was also stated that further incidents such as this could result in a 2 minute penalty. More on why this is a major screw up for the NHL, plus apparently the Canucks are playing in Anaheim tonight, after the jump...
Ex-NHL'ers like Aaron Ward, whose getting a pretty solid reputation for being a straight-up and insightful commentator laid out the exact problem on Twitter when he stated that this insult is used every game by players. There's been lots of discussion about how many of the grown men playing in this league learned these slurs as kids playing in small town rinks. It doesn't mean what you think it means, some have even suggested.
Right now, the NHL is having some growing pains as players are being suspended because they're having trouble adapting to new rules. They're changing the on ice culture, and punishing players for hits that show a lack of respect for the safety of their fellow players. And while it's not exactly the same, this is a missed opportunity to do the same about using this word. Society is changing, and much like the way the good majority of society changed it's views on racism (though as we saw with Simmonds just a week ago, it has a ways to go still), most of civilized society knows that racial epithets are unacceptable. And sports, through players like Jackie Robinson and hockey's own Willie O'Ree were huge in helping to bring about the change in these attitudes. It's time for sports to change the culture within the game to reflect what is going on outside the rink.
Larry Brooks of the New York Post absolutely frickin' nails it this morning when he writes:
The NHL's decision not to discipline Simmonds because of what Campbell stated was its inability to substantiate that the homophobic slur had been used, marked the end of the most dispiriting days I can recall since I began covering the league 36 years ago.
It's not merely that the league avoided its moral and civic responsibility in this case, no, not that alone.
Rather, it's, a) the monstrous number of communications via email and Twitter I received from fans, mostly foul-mouthed, who were more incensed at Avery for breaking some sort of implied code by not keeping silent about what had been said on the ice than at Simmonds even if he said it;, b) the monstrous number of communications I received saying that no matter what was said, Avery deserved it; and, c) the sounds of silence from most of the media people around the country and north of the border who essentially weigh in on everything.
And Brooksie is right. There has been a ton of silence from some notoriously prolific writers on this one. There's two reasons why this could be: 1) They don't have a problem with this. They think it's acceptable because it's been said for ages. Boys will be boys and all that, or 2) They do have a problem with this, but don't want to be the one who sticks his neck out. After all, someone could call you a fag, right? This isn't political correctness. It isn't an issue of free speech. It's ignorance directed at a portion of society. I don't care if you don't agree with the lifestyle. It's so upsetting, especially after the disgusting incident involving Simmonds just a week earlier, that the league and so many of the press are willing to just sweep this under the rug.
Anyways, back to the game itself. The Canucks are in Anaheim tonight to take on the Ducks
and will look a lot more like the team we know as they go into battle tonight. Daniel and Henrik Sedin
, Roberto Luongo
, Alexandre Burrows
and Kevin Bieksa
are all expected to play tonight, as they and the other Canucks regulars are chomping at the bit to get into game action after the first week of exhibition was handled by the Canucks prospects and tryouts.
The injuries already are unsurprisingly mounting on the defensive side of the ledger, as Aaron Rome is lost for 4 to 6 weeks with a broken finger, and Nolan Baumgartner's broken foot will keep him out for a month. Alexander Sulzer has left the team to attend the funeral of a friend who died in the tragic plane crash of the Lokomotiv team in the KHL, he will rejoin the team Thursday. And Ryan Kesler, who apparently will be appearing nude in ESPN Magazine soon, took a brief skate yesterday. No timetable on his return still, and no word on whether he was naked when he skated...
The Ducks will be with out Jean-Francois Jacques, who yesterday felt the full force of the Shanahammer, getting suspended for the remainder of the exhibition season and the first 5 games of the regular season for leaving the bench to start a fight with the Canucks' Mike Duco. This has to be my favorite suspension of all the ones Shanahan has doled out this far. It's this kind of douchebaggery that really sours people on the game. Thuggery. Plain and simple. The Ducks felt it was necessary for Jacques to go out and pummel 5'10" Duco after he fought their captain, you know... the 6'4" 220 pound Ryan Getzlaf.
Last night's leftovers...
Philadelphia's Tom Sestito celebrates his birthday today, and he will be getting a present from Brendan Shanahan as he should be suspended for a dirty hit from behind in that Rangers/Flyers
game Monday night. One guy who should be suspended but likely won't is Ottawa's Chris Neil, who got in a headshot on Mikhail Grabovski
. Grabovski, who didn't have the puck, was sent to the quiet room said he is fine and didn't suffer a concussion. How Neil has never been suspended in his career is a complete mystery to me...
BAND OF THE DAY- WARBRINGER
Part of the New Wave of American Thrash Metal, this Bay Area band have just unleashed their 3rd album 'Worlds Torn Asunder' on Century Media. Check out this kickass video for 'Shattered Like Glass' and see them when they eventually make their way to your town on every tour for the next two years (sorry, inside joke...)