Renaissance Online Magazine Sports

MARCH 2000 | VOL. 4, NO. 3



SPORTS

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Rash of professional sports violence



MARC CIAMPA, a native of St. Albert, Alberta, Canada is the staff sports writer for Renaissance Online Magazine. A student at the University of Alberta, Ciampa is the public relations coordinator for the St. Albert Saints and writes a weekly article in the Edmonton Sun on junior hockey during the winter. During the summer he runs the official Calgary Cannons website.




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McSorley Gives Professional Hockey a Black Eye
Bruins enforcer changed the complexion of the NHL with his idiotic assault on Donald Brashear

MARK CIAMPA

  Marty McSorley and Donald Brashear fight
THE FIGHT
Early in the game, Brashear (left) solidly beat McSorley then taunted him.
Marty McSorley assaults Donald Brashear
THE ASSAULT
Seeking revenge in the third period, McSorley (left) swings his stick at Brashear's head.
Mark Messier attends to Donald Brashear
THE SILENCE
Brashear lies unconscious, blood flowing from his nose, after being struck. Teammate Mark Messier tries to revive him.

The image is firmly embedded in my mind. Seconds ticking down in a hockey game that means next to nothing anymore. The Vancouver Canucks were well on their way to defeating the Boston Bruins by a 5-2 score.

Suddenly, the Bruins' resident tough-guy Marty McSorley hops over the boards. This would be of little incident if not for the fact that the king of fisticuffs for the Vancouver Canucks, Donald Brashear, was also on the ice.

The two had fought earlier in the game, with Brashear posting a decisive victory over McSorley. At age 36, Marty is no longer one of the top fighters in the game. His place in the sport has slipped to the point where he is now simply a role player. No longer the intimidating presence he once was.

Needless to say, this has frustrated him to no end. In the past three years he and Brashear have fought many times, but McSorley always came out on the short end of the encounters.

It could be argued then, that for this reason, on that night, at that time, Marty McSorley snapped.

Donald Brashear's comments about a week later: "Right now I'm just happy that I can walk right now and be on my feet and see my four-month-old son, and keep living,"

Marty McSorley's comments that night: "I have to reflect upon what I did. I have to come to terms with what I did."

What he did can never be forgiven. During that final shift of that meaningless hockey game -- with three seconds left to be precise -- McSorley skated up behind Brashear and swing baseball-style at his head with the hockey stick. The blow to Brashear's head knocked him out cold, and jarred his helmet loose. Brashear then fell over and struck his unprotected head on the ice. The result was a Grade 3 concussion -- the worst possible kind.

"I've never been a part of anything like that or witnessed anything like that," 20-year NHL veteran, Boston Bruins captain and McSorley's teammate Ray Bourque said. "There is no way to justify it."

To the league's credit, they did hand McSorley their stiffest punishment ever -- 23 games plus the playoffs if the Bruins should happen to squeak into the postseason. The previous high was 21 games, given to Dale Hunter of the Washington Capitals after he blindsided Pierre Turgeon of the New York Islanders during the 1993 playoffs well after Turgeon had scored a goal to put his team ahead.

But the league must go further than this. It was a blatant attempt to injure, if not attempted murder.

"I'm in shock with what I did," said McSorley at the end of that game. "That's not the way I want to be remembered as a hockey player.

Unfortunately for him, that is exactly the way he should be remembered: a man with no regard for the well being of others. It is an injustice if Marty McSorley has not played his last game in the National Hockey League.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman appeared hard-line in his stance after handing out the suspension, but he could have done so much more.

[ CONTINUED: life suspension ]

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