If worthy suspensions fail to be doled out, others could force hockey leagues to curb the violence. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
The hockey fighting apologists, as expected, are apoplectic with the news that Quebec Sport and Leisure Minister Michelle Courchesne has stepped into the fray and basically demanded the Quebec League do something about hockey violence.
It’s hard to imagine Mme. Courchesne and her colleagues don’t have better things to do with their time and with the taxpayer money of hard-working Quebeckers, but that’s precisely what you get when you run an institution that is incapable of policing itself.
When that happens, other people do it for you. That’s why the police and the courts have to get involved in on-ice hockey matters sometimes and it’s why, unfortunately, grandstanding politicians feel the need to enter the debate themselves.
Courchesne, whose son Jean-Michel Filiatrault played several seasons for the (surprise) Quebec Remparts as a goalie, has ordered QMJHL commissioner Gilles Courteau to form a committee that will submit by June a report containing anti-fighting proposals.
She also intends to discuss the matter with her other provincial counterparts at a meeting in May, “in order to implement measures to stop fighting in hockey in Canada.”
So there you have it. Those of you who are outraged will undoubtedly turn you vitriol and anger on the politicians involved. (And, judging by the negative emails I receive every time I write about fighting in hockey, this columnist. But I’m a big boy. Keep them coming if that’s what makes you feel better.)
But where those who really care about the game should be directing their criticism is at those who run the game.
Even the most ardent hockey fighting enthusiasts have condemned what Jonathan/Patrick Roy did and feel it has no place in the game. They also feel that those outside the confines of the rink should keep their opinions to themselves and their noses out of something that clearly isn’t their business.
But as long as hockey is going to allow these kinds of things to happen by punishing them with ridiculously lenient measures, all it is doing is compelling those who, seemingly, don’t know a hockey arena from the political arena to feel the need to save people from themselves.
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