On December 18th this happened:
Now let me first say that I think this is kind of hilarious. Sure, I wouldn’t be laughing if it was me getting nailed in the gonads, but it isn’t me getting nailed in the gonads so I can laugh a little bit. This is what’s called taking pleasure in the pain of the others. There is a single word to describe this term, but it has been way way way way way way waaaaaaaaaaay overused so I refuse brevity and write the old cliche instead of the new one.
While I do find the nut-punching pretty funny (along with the slow motion voices and dude giving the press conference) I find it somewhat disturbing that Crosby only got s two minute penalty out of the deal. Seriously, two minutes for sandbagging someone? That seems a little weak, especially when you get five minutes for punching someone in the chest or face. But he got two minutes, when he should have gotten at least five or maybe more. He probably should have been ejected from the game for misconduct. As the man says, this is embarrassing, if funny.
What’s more embarrassing, though, is the inconsistency of the NHL in handing out punishments. I know Sidney Crosby is the face and future of the league, or at least that’s how they are billing him, but that should not mean that he is entitled to special treatment. In fact, it seems to me that the league is not talking about this because they just want it to go away. They do not want to draw out this incident, which is embarrassing for their star, but also for the league itself. I am not a Crosby Hater, nor do I love him. He has talent, no doubt, and passion, and is exciting enough to bring more casual fans into the sport.
All that said, Crosby hit a dude in the nuts, a couple of times, in a hockey scrum. He saw the opportunity to get a cheap shot in and took it. I understand that this is hockey, but that means when one is caught dishing out a cheap shot one gets punished with some quality box time and possibly suspension of play for two or more games. The league probably should have done something in response to this, if just to maintain their integrity and consistency. Athletes need consistency, ask any semi or professional player/coach and they will tell you that the ability to be consistent is the most important ability in all of sports. By being inconsistent in how they are handing out punishments, NHL officials are sending a message to the players and coaches that says: we will arbitrarily enforce whichever arbitrary rules we wish when it suits us.
I also find it funny that Sean Avery lost his job and got suspended over a self-called media conference and a less than respectful comment concerning his ex girlfriend and her new beau. Granted, punching someone in the nuts and making an offensive to some statement are not the same at all, and Avery is a known agitator and general douche-bag. However, the fact that Avery is a bad guy with a bad attitude does not mean that he should be punished any differently than another player like, say, Sidney Crosby, who is seen as respectable and an asset to the league. I do not want to get into conspiracies here, but it seems to me that the NHL, in the case of Crosby and Avery anyway, punished based on reputation rather than on the crime itself.
I do not necessarily think that Crosby should be suspended for six games, nor should he lose his job, but I do think that he should be suspended for a game or two. That behavior is uncool, and it only has the potential to get worse. I do not mean Crosby specifically, but throughout the league in general. If players see that they can nail a dude in the gonads and only get two minutes, then I expect a lot more of this type of stuff is going to happen. On the other hand, if the league cracks down on others who does this, then they will have shown themselves to be nothing more than hypocrites and run the risk of poor player/league officials relations as well as poor fans/league relations. If the players and fans feel that the league and the refs favor some players over others then hockey is in trouble of losing out to its own double standards.
I know Crosby will not get punished for this–it’s almost been a week and Christmas is tomorrow so I really doubt this is a big concern of the league offices, and it is a shame that the NHL is going to be so inconsistent in how they handle unsportsmanlike conduct. If Crosby is going to be the face of the league, then the league needs to make sure that he and they are putting forth the right face. Does the NHL want to be known as someone who nails other dudes in the testicles without fear of any real punishment? Is that the symbol/image they are trying to convey? If that is the case, then they should by all means leave this alone and let it go away, but if (as they have said on countless occasions) they want to make their game more accessible to non-hockey/casual fans then they should stand up, take action, and provide the comforting atomosphere of consistency so that all players, coaches, and spectators and know what the rules are and how they will be used.