Mark Fistric lays a hit against Blair Betts. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Hockey lately is starting to resemble a schoolyard. Not just any schoolyard, mind you, one of those schoolyards with felons skipping rope.
Seems the league’s overrun with scoundrels right now. Players biting each other or attempting decapitations (none successful so far). Where’s the love?
Players in today’s game simply don’t care enough about each other anymore. Perhaps it’s the dog-eat-dog mentality of our modern world (I rarely go a day without seeing one canine fully devour another, which kind of makes me think it’s time to find a new apartment) and when a well-placed punch to the groin could be the difference between a million dollar contract and an eternity in the minor leagues; it’s essentially mutual respect (and gonads) be damned.
Perhaps it’s time we took some of Aretha Franklin’s advice (NOT the one about three-muffins-a-day-to-a-thinner-you) and added a little R-E-S-P-E-C-T to the old NH of L (sorry, the rhythm kind of got to me there).
We need to find ways to either encourage respect between players or institute ways to force it upon them.
TEAM-BUILDING RETREATS – Most hockey teams utilize some sort of group getaway at a point in their season in an attempt to form deep bonds between teammates. In may be white-water rafting or rock climbing or lap dances, but something significant can easily initiate a profound understanding between these athletes. And, if it works for teams, why can’t it work for the league as a whole?
Imagine two weeks at Camp Bettman. Seven-hundred-and-fifty hockey players, all learning about tying knots (net repair?), building fires and playing water polo. It’s hard to cross-check a guy who knows the camp fight song as well as you do.
CLINICAL GROUP THERAPY – If players can’t empathize with each other naturally, maybe a nice psychological pow-wow might do the trick. Players who bite others would, for example, be grouped with players who have been bitten. Feelings are shared, scars are compared, teeth are returned. Understanding the repercussions of your actions goes a long way towards the healing – as does sharing ointments.
CLINICAL PERSONAL THERAPY – Player A’s eye-gouging is just a symptom of a bigger problem (he hates his mother). The more players begin to realize they share common traits (everyone hates Sean Avery) the sooner they begin to have genuine interest and concern for one another.
COMBINE THE LADY BYNG TROPHY WITH A SUBSTANTIAL CASH AWARD – Seriously, no one wants to be recognized as a five-time Lady Byng winner. That’s like winning a penmanship award in an army unit. But add, say, $2 million on top of that and you’d have players fighting (oh, the irony) to be voted “most sportsmanlike.” You haven’t seen this much competition since Obama thumb-wrestled his way to that Nobel Prize.
BRING IN THE COPS – If all else fails we turn the league into a police state. On-ice officials would number in the hundreds. Lawmen would patrol the icing line, shutting down at least one red light district. Zero tolerance for tripping. Holding would be a felony. VIY (Violations, In Years) would be added to a player’s statistical bio. We’ll force you to love one another. Incarceration builds bonds.
And if the players don’t like it, well, there’s always Camp Bettman…
Charlie Teljeur, creator of THN's hockeysockpuppettheatre cartoon, brings you the humor column Loose Change every Tuesday. Subscribe to The Hockey News today to have Charlie's cartoon delivered to you in each issue.
Want to talk to Charlie about love, life, or Loose Change? Check out his website at charlieteljeur.com.
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