Anyone who has spent more than a moment around pro hockey knows there are givens to the game: Players are tough. They play to win. And in addition to the intrinsically beautiful things like skating, passing, speed and high-action plays that lift a fan right off a seat, there are inherent dangers.
One of them, to borrow a line from moviedom, is: There Will be Blood.
The spilling of it always has been; and likely always will be, a part of the game. But when is enough enough? Or in the case of Florida Panthers forward
Zednik suffered a horrific, life-threatening injury on Sunday when he was cut by the skate of teammate
Jokinen is on record (he used no uncertain language) that the game should not have continued and that he wanted only to go with his teammate to the hospital. Others on both teams expressed similar sentiments. Sabres coach
The NHL just happened to have Executive Vice President and Director of Hockey Operations
But was it right?
Jokinen had been involved in a traumatic incident not unlike the kind that trained first-responders or police face at the scene of a horrific accident or bloody crime. Even veteran officers who have been hardened by prior experience will tell you there are some things you just aren't prepared to see. In some cases, the impact is so devastating that it can never be forgotten. Imagine what it must have been like for the players, coaches and fans in Buffalo.
Players were fixated on what happened and how it could have just as easily happened to them. Did they benefit from the decision to play on? Where they and the fans harmed by it? No one can say for certain, but nearly 20 years ago in Buffalo, Sabres goaltender
As for the fans, well, one need only look at a photo of their collective faces behind Zednik after his blood started to spurt. The look on one young man's face is beyond description. Malarchuk tells of fans who came up to him years later and said they became physically ill after leaving the arena that night. He says at least three people told him they had relatives who suffered heart problems as a result. I worked in Buffalo during that era and still live there. There isn't a person I know who was in the building that night who doesn't remember every gruesome moment. More than a few have told me that they struggled with going back to Memorial Auditorium for a long time after it happened.
It's not like the NHL has never canceled a game. In 2005, Detroit defenseman
Officials certainly aren't trained to make those kinds of judgments. Common sense argues they did the right thing with Fischer, who couldn't (or shouldn't have) been moved. Did it make a difference that Zednik left the arena and the teams weren't physically impeded from carrying on? Did officials consider that players would be so unfocused by the event that they would be at risk when the game went on? No one ever truly addressed that.
Perhaps they should.
Risks are high whenever players set skates to ice. They are simply incalculable when they are in a situation where their collective minds and hearts are not focused on the matter at hand. Shouldn't that have been a consideration after the Zednik incident? These aren't questions of inconvenience, they are about the physical and mental well-being of the players and even the fans.
History shows that when it comes to the NHL and most other sports leagues, the Fischer incident was the exception. As with Malarchuk, the game went on in 1977 after veteran defenseman
My view? I appreciate the physical and mental toughness of hockey players. Generally, they spill their blood and take their stitches as a matter of pride and I commend them for it. But the Zednik incident was an extraordinary traumatic event and for those reasons alone the game should have been suspended.
That's not an easy thing to do, but look at the alternative: Had Zednik not survived -- and doctors are on record as saying there was a period of time when that was a real possibility -- would you want to have been a part of the decision that allowed the game to go on and players to skate over a dead man's blood?
Games are important to the business of hockey, the amusement and appreciation of fans, and the lifestyle and competitive nature of players. But they are never as important as the physical health and mental well-being of the people who play or watch them. Erring on the side of caution should be the norm not the exception in hockey and all sports.
This one should have been stopped.
There is still much work to be done in the sale of the Tampa Bay Lightning to a group headed by movie and television producer
In recent weeks, the deal -- rumored to be worth $200 to $210 million to seller
The announcement of the sale, however, is likely a good thing for fans who want to see the franchise keep the big three of
If there is a trade to be made with the Lightning, look for it to involve
Tortorella has endured these shots before and generally sloughs them off as he does the media, but Prospal is coming up on a new contract and reportedly has set his price much higher than the Lightning are prepared to meet. Couple contract with the coaching blast and the clock has started on a Prospal trade watch.
Closed out of the sale is former Columbus Blue Jackets president and general manager
McLean was recently spotted in his old stomping grounds, Nationwide Arena, taking in a youth hockey game where he was told by an usher to remove his feet from the seat in front of him. That had to be quite a comedown for the usher's former boss.
If the BlueJackets miss the playoffs again this season (and it appears that they will). McLean will get the blame for that as well, but that's GM
Moving Foote will be just the start of a purge of veterans from a team that hasn't made the postseason since its inception eight seasons ago and is looking to start over again.