Monday, December 3, 2007

Six strikes before Philly's called out

One week ago, I posted a blog entry stating that the league has to reprimand the Philadelphia Flyers organization for their lack of respect for other players. My rant was precipitated by the fourth questionable hit and subsequent suspension of a Flyers player (where Scott Hartnell elbowed Andrew Alberts of the Bruins in the head). Instead of issuing any sort of warning, the league simply handed Hartnell a slap-on-the-wrist two-game suspension.

Then on Saturday night, Riley Cote added to the growing list of brutal hits from Flyers. After an elbow to the head of Dallas Stars' d-man Matt Niskanen, becoming the fifth Flyer to receive suspensions in just over two months of NHL hockey (Steve Downie, Jesse Boulerice, Randy Jones, and Hartnell being the other four). Cote jumped, led with his elbow, and knocked Niskanen's helmet off with the hit--luckily Niskanen had prepared himself to get checked.

What I said last week was that the league had to warn the Flyers that further infractions would be penalized with increasing severity. Instead, Cote--a career minor-league enforcer who is likely only in the NHL because of other Flyers' suspensions--received three games. There is no excuse for such a light penalty for such complete disregard for the rules of the game and the health and well-being of the other players. In fact, something should have been done after the third event committed by a Flyers player; instead league executives watched as a fourth and fifth infraction occured.

According to The Globe and Mail, the league--more specifically Gary Bettman and Colin Campbell--has spoken with Philadelphia GM Paul Holmgren and suggested that there will be ramifications in the event of further infractions.

"We were kind of put on notice more than anything and that's fine," Holmgren said from his Philadelphia office. "We understand the consequences and we've just got to be a smarter team."

Apparently in the NHL, it's six strikes you're out. The first five are okay, but God help you if there's a sixth elbow-to-the-head-wth-intent-to-injure committed by one of your players.
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