Sunday, 7 August 2022

Banned For Life?

If there's one thing that no one ever wants to see in a hockey game, it's a ninja-style kick from a player. Skates are obviously dangerous with the blades on the bottom, so any player who attempts to kick an opponent is subject to a penalty and, where applicable, supplemental discipline or possible indefinite suspension. Honestly, I can't think of any other time where a ninja-style kick with someone in hockey gear was seen unless we're talking about Casey Jones of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fame. Of course, Jones was more about doing damage to enemies with a hockey stick while wearing a goalie mask, so he wasn't delivering many ninja-style kicks as far as his character was portrayed. In short, it just isn't done by players because of the possible damage a skate blade can do.

Peter K. brought this to my attention, though, and I think it deserves a quick chat. The following video was even picked up by TMZ so you know it's trending well if they're paying attention to it, but the incident in question is nothing about which we should be laughing.

If you missed it, it happens in real-time at the :07 second mark. The player on the bottom of the skirmish being held by the official kicks #90 in white in the face with his skate after #90 started get up and off the player held by the official. The replay zooms in on the kick, and it's hard to miss considering #90 slumps to the ice with what appears to be an obvious injury.

You might be thinking that this happened somewhere other than a place where hockey is part of a country's DNA, but this incident during an Adult Safe Hockey League game on July 29 at Scotia Barn in Burnaby, British Columbia. If you missed the important part of the previous statement, it happens in an ADULT SAFE HOCKEY LEAGUE GAME which is a recreational hockey organization that operates leagues across Canada and the US. The word "safe" should mean more than "hey, we provide insurance for injuries".

In the aftermath of the game, the RCMP's initial investigation indicated that #90 received medical treatment as a result of the kick, but there was no further details provided. The player who delivered the kick was issued a match penalty and was ejected from the game by the on-ice officials, and the officials filed a mandatory report that went to the ASHL head office.

In the days that followed, the RCMP began a more thorough investigation into the actions, and the ASHL issued a statement about the incident. Of note, they stated,
"The conduct and on-ice behaviour depicted in the video in no way aligns with the values of our league and the rules of the game. As a result of their actions, the offending player was issued a match penalty during the game, as well as a game ejection. Subsequently, the player was automatically suspended indefinitely and will receive supplemental discipline in-line with Section 2.15 (A) of the ASHL Rule Book."
Section 2.15 deals with suspensions of players, and that section states very clearly that a match penalty will result in a minimum punishment of an "indefinite suspension pending review by League Manager". The league holds the right "to levysuspensions in accordance with the minimum standards and, at their discretion, increase or decrease suspensions due to extenuating circumstances."

It's August 7 - nine days since the incident - and there's still no ruling on this player's hockey future in Burnaby. I don't know what set him off and, frankly, it doesn't matter if one's reaction to any skirmish is to kick another player with one's skate. While a ban for life seems harsh, I certainly would suspend him from all ASHL teams and leagues for the remainder of this calendar year and all of the 2023-24 season as well. That would be two full years without hockey, and one would hope the message would be clear that these actions will never be tolerated or taken lightly.

What say you, readers? Would you hand down a harsher suspension? Have I been too harsh in my assessment? Leave a comment below and let me know what you think. As for the ASHL, it would be nice to see a ruling sometime soon, but the longer the indefinite suspension goes on the less likely he is to repeat the same stupidity on the ice. Have you say below and we'll discuss! Stick tap to Peter K. for the story!

Until next time, keep your sticks and skates on the ice!

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