Renaissance Online Magazine Sports

MARCH 2000 | VOL. 4, NO. 3



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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
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"There is no place in our game for such actions," said Bettman. "Serious actions will result in serious consequences. "I think the punishment in this case, in our view, is an appropriate response."

McSorley is in the last year of his contract with the Bruins, and at age 36 the league obviously felt it was doubtful he would seek re-entry into the league next season. But even so, Bettman left the door open for him to return if he wished to do so-provided he met with the commissioner to discuss any further penalty.

"At the time of such a meeting, if it takes place, we will take all factors into account," Bettman said. "The story will be more complete then."

The NHL completely missed the boat. What they should have said was, McSorley will not be permitted to rejoin the NHL -- ever again. And anyone who even thinks about doing what he did will receive the same fate. Already, McSorley's agent has talked about him coming back to play next season. If the door was slammed shut, this wouldn't have been the case. What if McSorley was 26 and not 36? By not hard-lining their stance, they have basically stated that this was a unique case. They have not set a precedent should something similar happen in the future.

By deferring judgement on the case, the NHL has stopped short of declaring open season on the heads of its players.

Because the league did not set the precedent by levying a career suspension, they may have opened the door for another precedent: that of police involvement in the operations of professional sports.

The Vancouver police are investigating the incident under the category of aggravated assault.

"We told the Vancouver police we will cooperate fully," Bettman said. "But it is our hope we can deal with this as an internal matter." Vancouver Canucks General Manager Brian Burke was even more forward with his comments. "Leave this stuff on the ice. Leave it to the National Hockey League," he said. "We don't need the Vancouver police department or the RCMP involved in this."

Unfortunately, the league was not nearly strict enough in its ruling. This left the door open for outside punishment and just might adversely affect the way the league operates in the future.

Edmonton Oilers enforcer Georges Laraque, who was a teammate of McSorley last season, agreed that what McSorley did was reprehensible.

"I had so much respect for Marty. He won a Stanley Cup. He helped me a lot here last year," he said. "But he ruined his reputation forever. That's now the only thing anybody will remember about Marty McSorley."

Hopefully one good thing will come out of this. The next time a player raises his stick to hit another player, they will remember McSorley. They will remember him knocking out Brashear with one blow, they'll remember Brashear falling to the ice unprotected and unconscious.

They certainly will not remember the NHL's forgettable excuse for punishment.

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