Thursday, March 10, 2011
By now we all know what happened, of course, but what's really telling is the sequence of events in the aftermath.
No surprise, the NHL won't suspend Chara. Is it cynical to suggest that it's because blood, guts and mayhem are an integral part of the entertainment package the league's trying to sell?
And that if Marc Savard's career is ended because of a head shot, or Sidney Crosby's never the same after a concussion, or Max Pacioretty has to be wheeled off the ice on a stretcher, well, that's just the way the cranium crumbles?
What's really got me going is the reaction from sponsors like Air Canada, BCE and Tim Hortons. Or more precisely, the context for that reaction. The worst part of this? Not the horrific injuries and shortened careers and entirely avoidable brain damage. Clearly the NHL and its owners and their little schmuck of a frontman are prepared to live with all that.
No, the worst part of it is that none of that seems to make any difference. But let the sponsors start musing about bailing, and all of a sudden everyone's taking it seriously.
Head injuries? Horrific stories about brain damage? Marquee players out of commission, possibly never coming back to what they were? Whatever. The teams can take different airlines.
Corporate cash drying up? OHMYGOD DEFCON ONE WE HAVE TO PROTECT THE INTEGRITY OF THE GAME ...
(Could we maybe, finally, at long last, perhaps stop the continuing national embarrassment otherwise known as Coaches Corner? Please? Is Don Cherry really the best hockey mind we can cough up?)