So, I wanted to draw some attention to what I am appalled did not lead to any discipline last night. We've all been talking about the inconsistencies of the Department of Player Safety after last night's game, and how Bourque and myriad other players should have received no less than a phone call and no more than life in prison. I'm not going to beat a dead horse on that particular topic. What I am going to talk about is P.K. Subban's "fight" with Kyle Turris. We can debate the other incidents, intent, consequence (and by debate I mean agree that there should have been suspensions) until the end of time. We can discuss the flaws with the current system of punishment, how they are based on consequence and not intent but to me, Subban's attack on Turris is a completely different beast.
I've been officiating hockey at all different levels for 11 years. I've reffed all levels of Minor hockey, Junior hockey, and Senior hockey. I've reffed at provincial championships and attended Program of Excellence Development camps. I've broken up more fights than I can count. I've seen players injured during fights, even knocked unconscious. I've been elbowed in the face by a back-swing, punched in the back of the head protecting an unwilling combatant in a fight. I've had my own blood and other people's blood all over my reffing gear. It happens. Fighting is a part of the game as it currently exists. This is an undeniable fact, whether we like fighting or abhor it, it's there. With that said, the actions by Subban during that fight last night are absolutely deplorable.
I mentioned some of the incidents I've been involved with while breaking up fights. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but what I want to draw particular attention towards is that after each and every one of those incidents I was involved in, there was an inquiry by the powers that be (typically league/association/branch/tournament discipline committees) and repercussions were handed down to the individuals involved.
As an official, you are being employed, insured, and guaranteed by whoever sanctions the game that takes place. It is, therefore, the responsibility of that organization to hold your safety paramount. Many people have said, and I'm inclined to agree that the NHL has not properly taken care of player safety. At this point, I don't think they are even considering official's safety. Take another look at the video of Subban (literally) on Turris. The linesman is doing his best, putting his body on the line, trying to prevent a supine Turris from taking any more punishment. At this point, any punches Subban throws are endangering not only his opponent who has already been put in a vulnerable position and is unable to defend himself, but also the official who instinctively enters the melee to prevent unfair, unnecessary harm. This is inexcusable at any other level of hockey, why should it be forgiven at the NHL level. At this point, the NHL has shown disregard not only for their marketable product, the players, but also for their employees, the officials.
I'm disgusted not only with the NHL, but with PK Subban. The fighter's code is an often romanticized, and mostly bull-shit list of governing rules by which enforcers and anyone engaging in a hockey-fight behaves by. In fact, there is no real code, when you are in a fight, you are doing whatever you can to inflict the most damage on your opponent while sustaining the least amount of damage yourself. Period. What governs most fighters, even through the red-mist obstructing their brains during a fight, is common decency. Punching a downed opponent, let alone endangering a neutral party while doing it, is deserving of nothing less than a Match penalty.
Taken together, this particular event is the biggest black mark on last night's game in my eyes. Perhaps it's because the whole head-shot/blind-side/other infraction scale seems so arbitrary and misguided in my opinion. Maybe it's because I can picture myself in the position of the liney last night and would be so bitter with the NHL right now if I were him. All I know is right now I can't think of many things that annoy me more than the NHL and PK Subban. Check out the video one more time and see if you agree with me.
PS. I'd just like to add that Subban's jumping Turris is also pathetic and that the cross-check that allegedly sparked the whole thing was about as inconsequential as a Summer's breeze.