Thursday, October 23rd, 2014

Willie Mitchell

4

Willie Mitchell threw another hand grenade into league headquarters when he called for a change to the way discipline is handed out. A second Vancouver Canuck has questioned the league’s integrity:

“I think the league needs to, along with our players’ union, take a look at how they run the discipline in the league. Colin Campbell had a lot of relationships with general managers and ownership and stuff like that. It’s very tough to hand down decisions on matters like this when you are friends with people. It’s something the league and players need to look at, to have an outside party handle the discipline in the league (so) it’s consistent. As we’ve seen it hasn’t been very consistent.”

Mitchell, of course, is upset that the hit that injured him was punished with a two minute minor. He’s probably also a little upset that the media also pretty much ignored a dangerous hit that hurt him severely. Marc Savard? He’s back playing. Willie? Half a season after the hit and he still has symptoms.

Campbell’s response was telling, and so was the way TSN presented the story. TSN presents the story as Mitchell complaining about the fact Malkin was not suspended for his hit. He was, but that really wasn’t his point. His real points are 1) Discipline in the league is inconsistent, 2) League impartiality is impossible, and 3) An outside party should be responsible for supplemental discipline.

Colin Campbell, of course, dodged those issues. After pretending that the league gives a shit about player safety, he claimed the hit had been reviewed and “did not require discipline”. He also went on the offensive just as he did when Alex Burrows challenged the integrity of the league. “Willie Mitchell has been involved with me more than once in is own discipline situations so he should understand both sides of the equation.” (TSN piled on by ending the story with “Ironically, it was a crunching, open-ice hit by Mitchell that resulted in Chicago’s Jonathan Toews suffering a concussion in October. Toews missed six games.” Like that “irony” is in any way relevant.)

In a way, Campbell makes Mitchell’s point. Would Mitchell have been suspended if he made a hit that knocked Malkin out for the season? Why didn’t Malkin’s hit require a suspension? It didn’t have anything to do with the fact that Malkin is a superstar and Mitchell is not, did it? Is that why TSN all but ignored Malkin’s hit while happily vilifying Matt Cooke for his on Savard?

The next step will be to fine Mitchell for questioning the integrity of the league. That will surely restore Colin Campbell’s credibility and the credibility of the league’s disciplinary apparatus.

Not.

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Comments

4 Responses to “Willie Mitchell”
  1. James Mirtle says:

    That sort of stuff pointing out Mitchell’s been suspended before and the Toews hit drive me crazy. It’s incredible how players’ so-called “reputations” cloud the way people evaluate these incidents. (Burrows was the classic one, with some of my colleagues in the media not liking his history and therefore disregarding everything he said.)

    I’ve written about this already, but there’s a dangerous trend in the NHL where hits from behind just aren’t being called properly, and it sets a bad precedent. We here all know why that hit is a five and a game — why isn’t it being called that way?

  2. Tom says:

    It’s incredible how players’ so-called “reputations” cloud the way people evaluate these incidents. (Burrows was the classic one, with some of my colleagues in the media not liking his history and therefore disregarding everything he said.)

    Its so incredible, I think it is wilful blindness. Burrows and Mitchell both raised uncomfortable issues, issues that neither the league or the media wants to address. I think your colleagues pounce on the red herring because if they do, they can disregard everything else.

    I’ve written about this already, but there’s a dangerous trend in the NHL where hits from behind just aren’t being called properly, and it sets a bad precedent. We here all know why that hit is a five and a game — why isn’t it being called that way?

    I thought about this issue when you raised it. I think this penalty disappeared for the same reason cutting a player with a high stick stopped being five and a game. Who wanted to throw Gretzky out of a playoff game? Malkin’s hit – like Ovechkin’s on Campbell – was thoughtless, not vicious. Like the accidental high stick, this foul is just as likely to be committed by a star as by a goon. The NHL is (reluctantly) willing to punish the vicious up to the Messier or Pronger point, but including the thoughtless casts too wide a net.

    I don’t think Mitchell did so well when he suggested Campbell was influenced by his relationships with hockey managers. That may be true, but in my view, the bigger problem is money and marketing. The league doesn’t favour any one team, they favour a class of player.

  3. Boxcar says:

    I am definitely torn here. While Mitchell and Burrows may have raised some good points, Vancouver is fast becoming known as the city of “Whiners”. On the other hand, I have no sympathy for the NHL brass and how they seem to run things seemingly without a care for the views of the great unwashed, the everyday fans who bankroll the whole mess.
    I want to make a point here specifically about hits from behind. Whenever a rule is made to protect players they will find a way to use it to their advantage ie: turning their back to the play to avoid being hit. I really feel this changes the dynamics of the game. I reffed a game of 8 and 9 year olds a few years ago, and I noticed the players were all turning their backs to the play to protect the puck. This infuriated me as I pointed out to the respective coaches the rule is their to protect the players. What happens when a player attempts to hit another and the player being hit turns his back? Sure you draw a penalty but you could end up paralyzed. Trust me, players are also sometimes throwing themselves into the boards to draw penalties.
    I am not condoning hitting from behind but I will reiterate players should have some responsibilty for their own safety. Sure you will say I am blaming the victim but you must admit there is truth in what I am saying.

  4. Tom says:

    While Mitchell and Burrows may have raised some good points, Vancouver is fast becoming known as the city of “Whiners”.

    Why does this bother you? Ad hominum attacks never concern me. Unless, of course, we think Burrows or Mitchell or the Canucks will be punished by the referees and Colin campbell for daring to issue the challenge. Even then, the problem is not with the “whiner”.

    I agree that players have responsibility for their own safety, but they have always turned their back to protect the puck. Sometimes this is done too late and the result is a hit from behind. I expect Campbell (or whoever) to consider that when considering punishment, but I’m not sure what else there is to be done about it. Mitchell certainly didn’t do anything to contribute to his injury.

    We aren’t suggesting that we allow hits from behind because if we penalize them players might turn their back to protect a puck, are we?

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