If you are like me, you are tired of the gong show surrounding suspensions in the NHL. Whining coaches, players and GM's, the scrutiny on Shanahan, the inconsistency of the calls, out of touch fines etc, etc......etc. I have a solution that just may work to clean up the whole mess and make the NHL look a little less bush league in the process.
For years, we have heard Don Cherry, Mike Milbury and a host of other blowhards speak about how if they let the players police the action, there would be far fewer of these head shots, intentional knees, boardings and other "lack of respect" infractions in the NHL. In my opinion, they are half right, the players do need to be able to police the action but not with their fists.
My solution is the players discipline committee. Under this structure, just as every team has a player union rep, each team would have a discipline rep who would be the captain or someone designated by the captain. These players would sit on a 5 man suspension committee. Each division polices another division in the other conference. This way 1) it can't be maintained that the decisions are being made to influence a teams position in the standings or playoff run because the disciplinarians have no dog in the fight, 2) emotions over the in question players past conduct with the decision makers would not permeate the discussion because the teams with players involved only play each other twice a year.
Under the first phase of the new regime, the league, who sets and controls the rules and owns the on ice product may designate a hit from a previous game a suspension offense. From that point on it moves to committee. The league would send an information package to the members of the discipline committee involved. The package would contain 1) video of the infraction from all angles available, 2)the player in question's disciplinary record,3) medical prognosis on the injured player and 4) the game situation under which it occurred, time, score etc. Each player rep would watch and read the package and then indicate the suspension warranted. (must be at least one game if league determines it to be suspendable. The league would then give the average of the 5 suggested suspensions. Fines will be tied to salary and remitted to a league charity as would be forfeited salary. (Call me a Commie, but owners should not receive a windfall from the bad conduct of their employees.
The benefits of this are many.
1. Players have control of the product and can't complain about result.
2. Responsibility for the suspension is spread so the whipping boy aspect is eliminated
3. Coaches and GM's will bitch and moan less about the length of the suspension because taking league players to task over this will make them unpopular amongst the players.
4. Retribution will hopefully give way to justice as players will feel like the in question player got what was coming to them and it was delivered by the players.
5. The league will look good because it appears that players are now involved in decisions involving player safety and can enforce their own "code" without dropping gloves.