Guest Author - Kevin Thorburn
The recent behaviour of Todd Bertuzzi of the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks has sparked quite a debate regarding violence in this fine sport. Bertuzzi’s action against Colorado’s Steve Moore was cowardly and just plain stupid. His suspension for the rest of the, including the playoffs, is certainly warranted, and you would have no problem convincing me that he deserves more. Of course, he may just receive more since the league says it will take another look at the situation next season.
The problem is that when people that are not knowledgeable about the game and all its aspects speak of violence, they often are referring to fighting. Fighting, in a nutshell, is what keeps these stick – aka: weapon – wielding warriors from committing many more acts of violence. This is where the league has to realize their part in the problem. The instigator rule simply protects those that wish to act recklessly with their hockey stick. It used to be that those that acted with disregard for others’ safety in such a manner would have to pay the price by dealing with the other team’s enforcer. The NHL has essentially removed the ability of the enforcer to police the ice. How does this pertain to Bertuzzi’s act? Had the team’s tough guy been able to drop the gloves with Moore at the time of his perceived reckless attack on the highly skilled Markus Naslund, frustration would not have had the chance to build up to the point that a certain player would suffer a brain cramp and perform such a disgusting act. As well, had Moore known that his actions against Naslund would result in an altercation with an enforcer he may not have even done what he did. Does this remove any responsibility from Bertuzzi? Absolutely not, he must be accountable.
Every action must be done to remove violence from the sport of hockey, but it must be remembered that fighting is a part of the game that keeps the stars protected from the marginal players. This has been the case from day one and it must not be tampered with. In fact, it is clear the league needs to reassess their views.