Friday, March 14, 2008

When Stomping is Apparently OK

Colin Campbell needs to explain himself now, and if he can't, he needs to resign.

The NHL has a major credibility problem on its hands right now and the Isles are peripherally involved.

Wednesday night, Anaheim star defenseman Chris Pronger stomped on Vancouver center Ryan Kesler. You can view the incident below.

Having viewed this (which is a much better view of the incident than what had been going around), it certainly appears that Pronger stomps on Kesler out of frustration for having been tied up with Kesler's feet. In my opinion, Pronger is clearly looking back at Kesler and down at his feet as he stomps on Kesler's calf - thus, it was no accident.

Now Pronger can argue that he simply got caught up in the heat of the moment, but even if that were the case, we've seen this year how much damage a skate blade can cause. It is simply not acceptable behavior and a career can be ruined very easily.

So given that former Islander Chris Simon was suspended for 30 games earlier this year for a stomping incident (and whether or not you agree with the length, you must agree that a large suspension was in order), surely Pronger would be looking at significant time in the skybox, right? At least for the rest of the regular season (and I would argue a few playoff games as well)?

Apparently not. The NHL will not discipline Pronger. To which Isles and hockey fans are saying, "What the hell?"

After seeing the video, discipline czar Colin Campbell owes the NHL fans an explanation as to why no action is being taken here, as the evidence is pretty compelling against Pronger. No action being taken brings into question the credibility of the league, as it would seem there is a double standard for regular players and stars. After all, to use a hypothetical, why can't Sidney Crosby do the same thing in a game if he gets frustrated? With this precedent, the NHL won't lay a glove on him.

But wait, you say. Chris Simon has a history of suspensions, and that's why he got 30 games. To which I reply with this: Pronger's suspension history. He has been suspended seven times, including twice in last year's playoffs alone. Hell, in the 1998 incident, Pronger swung his stick at Jeremy Roenick's head. Sound familiar?

So apparently according to the NHL, stomping is only bad if a fourth liner does it. When a star is involved, video evidence is "inconclusive." What a bunch of crap.

Hey Mr. Campbell -- if the above video isn't evidence enough to suspend Pronger, then it would be nice if you could go public and explain specifically why that is not the case (not that most people will buy it, but at least you're taking some responsibility).

And if you can't do a simple thing like that, then you need to hand in your resignation. Now.

Update (1:20 AM): Blogfather Chris Botta is reporting that the NHL may revisit the case based on the video that you can see above. Now why the NHL didn't have this footage available previously to them is beyond me, and I won't speculate other than to say I'd imagine the league is taking into account the extreme negative reaction of its fanbase. But if Campbell reverses himself and gives Pronger a lengthy suspension, then he will deserve some credit. I don't like having to call for anyone's resignation (everyone has a family to feed), but if Pronger isn't suspended, the double standard would be so egregious that I don't see how Campbell would be capable to ably perform his job.

Update (3/15/2008): The league has reviewed the evidence and heard from the parties involved, and handed down a Pronger suspension.

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