Wednesday, November 4, 2009

OHL Overreacts

Everyone is talking about the hit by Michael Liambas. Obviously no one wants to see someone injured as badly as Ben Fanelli was. People in hockey always have to continue doing what they can to limit these kinds of injuries. From what I can see here for example Fanelli's helmet should not have come off as easily as it did.

Now the hit itself... it was a charge. Certainly you could call it boarding. However, I've seen far dirtier hits receive far less punishment. Liambas has been suspended for the remainder of the regular season and playoffs. OHL Commissioner David Branch has ended one player's junior career I guess to make up for a hit that may have ended another player's career. Is that justice?

I've often heard some fans say suspensions should be linked to the injury they cause. I disagree fully. Someone could get a career ending injury on a completely clean body check. Someone could break their neck on a simple 2 minute tripping penalty. This is a fast and physical game. Unfortunately a part of that is the risk of significant injury.

If the OHL has a problem with the way the game is played they have to change their own rules and change the culture of their game. This wouldn't be the first time the OHL has immediately overreacted to one incident rather than taking their time and trying to make fair and reasonable changes. But to single out this one player and shut down the remainder of his junior career to set an example is not fair. If Fanelli had not been hurt as severely as he had been would Liambas have even been suspended? Maybe a couple of games. This suspension is a joke that is meant to take the blame for the injury out of the OHL's hands and to paint another young man as the villain.

There have been thousands of hits like that in hockey. 99.9% of the time the guy being hit doesn't turn quite at that angle or get hit quite at that angle or injured near as badly as Finelli was injured. Liambas is not Todd Bertuzzi or Marty McSorely and yet this suspension makes it seem as if he is.

The OHL just threw one of their own under the bus for the sake of good PR. It's shameful.

EDIT: Click here to check out a very interesting post on the Pipeline Show blog that should open some eyes here as well.

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