Thursday, December 4, 2008

The NHLPA & Sean Avery

The Player's Association has a very unique situation on its hand currently. Barring any groveling by Avery in New York today, he will be suspended for an indeterminate amount of time. But Bettman and his cronies have set a precedent here that can't be overlooked.

We all know that Avery's "off-color remarks" were demeaning, classless, etc., etc. But suspending him for this creates a situation I'm not sure Gary Bettman is ready to handle. We've all heard the the criticisms that the NHL suspends for result, not intent, and that criticism is fair to an extent. But now we're seeing a suspension due to a crack about an ex? That's tiptoeing the line between Puritanism and totalitarianism.

But it's not as if the language used by athletes is tame by comparison. The 3 following videos each offer something a little different in terms of "inappropriate for the masses" content, but there were no suspensions. Watch.

How many times have you seen Lindy Ruff go mad? John Tortorella? Every Coach?

Lindy says "Go after Peters, not our f***ing captain." I agree with him.

Here's some old school Pens, this audio is absolutely NSFW. Be warned.

Sounds like Corey Perry is threatening to injure Pavel Datsyuk and Mikael Samuelsson, suspendable? You tell me.

Anything said there is far more offensive and coincidentally "detrimental to the league" than the single brazen remark by Avery. But, it was on the ice, away from the cameras, and most importantly, away from Sportscenter. The outcry and debate caused by Avery has been a focal point of numerous mainstream sports media who usually only give a glancing look at the NHL. Bettman knows this, so he acted swiftly so as to kill a scandal before it got off the ground. Obviously instead of dousing it, he poured the lighter fuel and lit the match. But has he crossed the line between the viable and ludicrous?

Simply put, the NHLPA cannot let Bettman make an example out of Avery. They must appeal the ruling when it is decided. This is a showing of disciplinary extravagance that the player's union (regardless of whether or not 95% of players wouldn't back up Avery) has to appeal and fight. If "sloppy seconds" is a suspendable offense, then so would "Frog", "Fag", and every other piece of gamesmanship ever spoken in a locker room, on the ice, anywhere. My guess, judging by the language used in that earlier video, that those are the tamest of insults hurled around the ice, yet Avery has become the scapegoat.

Here's my point, the NHLPA is no different than any other Union in the world, it represents it's constituents and their rights. As classless as Avery was; disrespecting himself, Phaneuf, and poor Elisha, he should not be suspended by the NHL for this. The NHL disciplinary process has already made a mockery of itself with no transparency, no guidelines, and lack of consistency, so why bring more attention to it? It will be interesting to see how the NHLPA responds. I for one hope that they stand up to this.

Personally, I think Avery should have been suspended by his own team for a small number of games and fined by the NHL under By-Law 17 Article 6.

What does everyone else think? Should Avery have been suspended by the NHL? By the Dallas Stars? Fined? No reaction?


Anonymous said...

I think it's Mikael Samuelsson, not Ulf, but other than that, you have some really good points in the article

Vance said...

Good God, Ulf is like 63 now or something, good catch. Thanks man.

The Village Elliotts said...

EXCELLENT post!! Thank you! :)

Fact: BanginPanger is not meant as an insult to the one and only Darren Pang, nor do I claim to be him. The views and opinions presented on BanginPanger are of my own, and no other namesake of the site, the NHL, Buffalo Sabres, Washington Capitals, or anyone else.