Saturday, 27 January 2018

Oh, We Got A Problem

I promised you, readers, that I would never write about a specific hockey league this Christmas past after they decided it would be a wise move to block me on Twitter. I am going to go back on that word today because I can't sit here with a clear conscience regarding this league after an egregiously-ridiculous decision was made today that not only puts player safety at risk, but goes to prove that this league has absolutely zero teeth when it comes to the Chinese teams the league includes in its membership. If you thought I had a bone to pick with the league before, it's time for me to step my game up in a big way after today's announcement.

Let's start with the problem. In a game between the Markham Thunder and the Kunlun Red Star, there was an incident that occurred that was dangerous and scary. The video is posted below, and I'll break down the incidentals after you watch this short clip that was posted by CWHLPA member Liz Knox.
Liz Knox has every right to question this play because the league decided today that there would be no suspension for Kunlun Red Star's Taylor Marchin after she swung her stick up high and hit Markham's Nicole Kosta in the helmet. All she would get is a warning and a slap on the wrist for using her stick like a broad sword in battle.

Yes, I'm laughing as I write this.

I'm laughing because this women's league is turning into an absolute joke when it comes to anything to do with the Chinese teams. I'm laughing because this league's Department of Player Safety has zero regard for players or their safety with an absolute joke of a ruling like this. I'm laughing because no matter how much outrage is shown by players across the league about this decision, the league simply doesn't seem to give a rat's ass about its most marketable assets.

Enough laughing. Let's get into the evisceration.

First, this is a suspension in any other league regardless of level. Taylor Marchin has played high-level hockey her entire life with a four-year stint at Yale in the NCAA before jumping over to China to play for Kunlun Red Star. Taylor Marchin knows she can't swing her stick like this because it's extremely dangerous and completely unacceptable at any level, and that point has been reinforced for her entire career wearing skates. I don't care what league we're talking about - NHL, AHL, SEL, beer league, atom minor hockey - this is a severely punishable offence.

But not in this joke of a league. Not here. Nope. Just a warning.

Second, it's very clear to me that this stick-swinging incident was retaliation for the bump that Kosta threw on Marchin. That is not only reprehensible by Marchin, but it's absolutely disgusting. I don't know how this so-called "Department of Player Safety" can't see that Marchin swung the stick after Kosta bumped her and was in no way an attempt to play a puck that had already been played past the two players, but apparently that's not visible to whomever occupies this farce of a department. Not only is the intent clearly there, but there isn't even a question of this potentially being a hockey play gone wrong.

But not to this joke of a league. Nope. Just an honest mistake.

Third, Miss Knox makes an excellent point that she was suspended while receiving 27 minutes - not the 22 as she indicated - in penalties for leaving her crease. FOR LEAVING HER CREASE. Not for fighting. Not for slashing someone across the throat. Not for swinging a stick in retaliation that caught an opponent in the head. No, she got it for leaving the crease - LEAVING HER CREASE - and this gets a warning?

This league and its Department of Player Safety is a ridiculous farce.

I decided to do a little searching for someone who might be able to provide an answer on how the Department of Player Safety arrived at this decision. I stumbled upon this page that shows Claire Biafore as "Player Safety and Head Medical Trainer". She could probably provide answers, but here's the rub: I'm not emailing her.

I want nothing to do with this league. They cut me off, and I'm fine with that decision because they can't answer simple tweets - looking at you, Jordon Hall, Supervisor of Communications. If I were a player, I'd want nothing to do with this league either because it seems that unless you play for one of the precious Chinese teams, you're a second-class citizen in this league regardless of years of service.

Before I address the second-class citizen comment I just made, I wanted to know more about Miss Biafore, and it seems that Miss Biafore is a fairly accomplished professional. She completed her Specialized Honours Bachelor of Science degree in Kinesiology and Health Sciences and earned a diploma in the Sport Therapy Certificate Program. She attained her national certification, she earned a designation as a Osteopathic Manual Practitioners and the latest information I could find had her attending York University to attain her Master's Desgree in Kinesiology and Health Sciences.

All those framed documents on her wall are fine and dandy, but I just want to know if she's ever had her vision tested. Because it appears that despite being "appointed as the Manger of Player Health and Safety for the Canadian Women's Hockey League" and "treating numerous Olympic level hockey players" while overseeing "all medical aspects of the league," she's seeing the same optometrist as Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles.

And how does one who is not a medical doctor of any kind oversee "all medical aspects of the league"? An Osteopathic Manual Practitioner works "to maintain, improve and restore the normal physiological function of interrelated body structures and systems, enhancing the body's natural ability to heal itself," according to Google. Why would the Department of Player Safety need someone who is glorified athletic trainer as its leader? It's pretty clear she has zero concern for a player's health and/or safety by allowing Marchin to swing her stick at Kosta's head like she's attacking a piƱata, so what exactly does she do in her position?
Y'know what? Let's pump the brakes for a second. Maybe there's something else that needs to be addressed and, since I'm already banned by the league on social media, I say let's go for broke. Ready for the big, $100,000 question?

Why is this league so afraid of any criticism of the Chinese teams? If this is about having those who hold the money and potentially future monies being unhappy with the league, there's a fairly easy justification for what should have been a suspension.


This is the league that puffed out its chest and proclaimed how it was going to help the Chinese players on their two new teams become Olympians. This is the league that patted itself on the back by bragging about how much it was growing the game for these new players. This is the league that allows an American "hockey ambassador" to swing her stick like a baseball bat at an opponent's head while asking that "hockey ambassador" to teach hockey neophytes to "play the right way".

What a disgraceful and embarrassing joke.

If this decision came from higher up than Claire Biafore, Miss Biafore should have resigned the moment that this decision was passed down to her. If this decision came from outside her office and outside her department, she should have walked out then and there because there is zero justification for just a warning in this case. If Miss Biafore remains as the head of the Department of Player Safety, she should wear this disgrace like it's a facial tattoo because not only does her silence on this matter indicate that the league and her department don't see a problem here, but that the league and its Department of Player Safety condone what Taylor Marchin did to Nicole Kosta by only issuing a warning.

Hear that, players of this farce of a league? It's open season on stick-swinging incidents because the precedent has been set by the league and this department. All you'll get for trying to decapitate your opponent is a warning not to do it again.

Nicole Kosta deserves better than "Taylor, please don't swing your stick at an opponent's head." In fact, the entire league deserves better than having the league and its Department of Player Safety slap Taylor Marchin on the wrist for this assault because she knows it was done in retaliation and wasn't just an errant stick that hit Kosta. I couldn't care less if Marchin reads this and thinks I'm a douche, either, because if she tries to claim it was anything else than a retaliatory swing at Kosta's head, she's a bold-faced liar as well. Sorry, I'm just calling it as the video shows it unlike the league who doesn't have the testicular fortitude to bring the hammer down on a Chinese team's player.

This should have been a suspension for at least five games. Then again, I would have gone as far as having Marchin sit for the remainder of the regular season. There is nothing that could justify swinging her stick in that manner and not being punished harshly for it.

Well, apparently, I'm wrong. Because there is something that can justify that kind of assault: the CWHL.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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