Thursday, March 10, 2011

Double contempt, cheap shot

Technical issues have kept me off this forum for a few days .. so I'm going to comment on a couple of things at once -- the double contempt finding by Speaker Peter Milliken yesterday, and the Montréal cheap shot.

I wrote before about the unfunded mandate that Ottawa is trying to offload to the provinces and territories for the expected larger numbers of people who will be incarcerated under the "get tough" approach to crime.   Mr. Milliken ruled that the "Harper Government" shirked its responsibility to provide cost estimates, no matter how half-baked, to the House Justice Committee, so the impact of the policy change could be debated.   And on the Bev Oda saga, the Speaker also found a prima facie case to hold her in contempt for the doctoring of an appropriations request.

It appears that over the ten years he has been Speaker, Milliken has totally lost his patience with both the Liberals and the Conservatives.   Forget the in and out scheme -- this time Team Harper was caught red handed and the people may actually finally be pissed.   Isn't it time we pulled the plug and force an election?   Harper and Co are doing their own set of dirty tricks and it cannot be tolerated any longer.


Now about the incident the other night when Zdeno Chara of Boston slammed Max Pacioretty from behind and smack into one of the polls holding up the protective glass.   Pacioretty has a concussion and verterbrae injuries, but all Chara got was a game misconduct.  And only that.   Because it was deemed to be a "clean hit."

That's it?   How about a suspension?   Maybe even criminal action?  (Regardless of whether this was tit for tat for a prior altercation or not, this really does smell of very possible criminal intent, in fact the Montréal Police are investigating that possibility at this time -- of course I'll leave it to them to make the decision.)

More interesting is the letter that Air Canada sent to the NHL regarding the head shot.    In it, the head of communications for the airline, Denis Vandal, stated that while it has been a long time supporter of pro hockey in both Canada and the US, it may have to revisit its sponsorship agreement if sometime isn't done soon to crack down (pardon the expression) on the violence in hockey.   The quote (courtesy of the Ottawa Sun):
We are contacting you (Wednesday) to voice our concern over (Tuesday night's) incident involving Max Pacioretty and Zdeno Chara at the Bell Centre in Montreal. This is following several other incidents involving career-threatening and life-threatening headshots in the NHL recently..
From a corporate social responsibility standpoint, it is becoming increasingly difficult to associate our brand with sports events which could lead to serious and irresponsible accidents; action must be taken by the NHL before we are encountered with a fatality.
Unless the NHL takes immediate action with serious suspension to the players in question to curtail these life-threatening injuries, Air Canada will withdraw its sponsorship of hockey.

As a strong supporter and sponsor of NHL Hockey in Canada and several U.S. cities, Air Canada is very concerned with the state of hockey today.
While we support countless sports, arts and community events, we are having difficulty rationalizing our sponsorship of hockey unless the NHL takes responsibility to protect both the players and the integrity of the game.

I don't think Air Canada is bluffing this time.  With no viable US TV contract, corporate sponsorships are what keeps the league going.   No clue as to how much the deal is worth although if you consider how much they paid Céline Dion to sh(r)ill for them several years ago I'd guess a few million per year.   But someone has to take the first step.   And I hope other companies follow through.   Enough of the crap.   Violence is what we expect in professional wrestling -- not hockey.   There's a difference between clean checking and just plain mean crap, which may be fine for Don Cherry but is unacceptable to most of us who just want to watch an entertaining game.   It's like the old joke, "I went to a fight, and a hockey game broke out ..." if you know what I mean.

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