Violence begets violence.
It’s the sad truth about the society we live in. It’s the same truth that has the hockey world in the limelight for all the wrong reasons.
If you haven’t seen the sequence of events here is a quick rundown –
James Neal skates by a downed Brad Marchand and knees him in the head which sends the Boston Bruins into a frenzy, especially Shawn Thornton.
In the after play scrum Thornton comes from behind tackles Brooks Orpik and delivers blows from behind that renders Orpik motionless on the ice.
After a stretcher takes Orpik off the ice, Thornton receives a match penalty – with social and mainstream media erupting in frenzy.
A truly ugly incident and it already appears are set to be handed out to both Thornton and Neal. So what can we take from this incident?
News outlets will ramp up the ‘fighting in hockey’ discussion and debate – and everyone with an opinion will debate on what can be done to take this out of the sport. The answer to that is simple, and it’s something so simple it’s probably frustrating because the lack of a ‘debate’ point.
What happened last night was sadly a byproduct of why this sport is so great. Brotherhood. It’s about protecting the man to your left and your right. The willingness to go to bat for your teammate at a moment’s notice and do so knowing the harm that may come to you.
Does that excuse Thornton from what he did? Absolutely not. There is a way to go about it and Thornton has already admitted that he went about it the wrong way and he will pay for his momentary lack of judgment.
The real culprit of this incident won’t get the punishment that is probably due for him. Neal started the violence that begat more violence that ended in his own teammate being taken off a cart.
Neal won’t get more than five games, he should really get more than that and should probably get just as much as Thornton does as his actions led way to Thornton’s and will likely lead to more violence the next time the two teams meet.
In that meeting, expect the Penguins to go 1970s and dress a ‘goonie’ that’s sole purpose is to go after Thornton. Why? Because violence begets violence.
I can’t stress enough how much in the wrong he was in, and in no way am I defending him but in a sport where violence and standing up for your teammates are not only allowed but celebrated you can’t act surprise that this happened.
It’s the society we live in – we accept it, we expect it in these situations. So if we expect it, what is there we can really do about it? If Thornton had done absolutely nothing about that, there would be fans calling for his head for not standing up for his teammate.
It’s time to stop trying to change the game. If you want to make it 100% safe, you’re in for a problem – because that’s impossible. You can’t fix the unfixable, so instead of trying to do so – look past that. Invest in better post-retirement programs and health care packages for the players.
Make doctor’s visits and if needed counseling mandatory (What if an one hour session twice a year detected any signs of depression or problems in Wade Belak? Rick Rypien? Derek Boogaard?). These players know the risk when they step on the ice, so take care of the players that so willingly destroy their bodies and minds for our entertainment – and to make you money.
Anthony Murphy is the Editor at Pucks of A Feather. You can reach him by email [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @AMurphyTFC.