Friday, July 31, 2009

Should Courts Step In?

A young man was cross-checked in the chest four times with a hockey stick, then a final blow to the chin knocking him out. If it had played in a back ally in any town USA, it might be cause for a long term prison sentence. But if it happens on the rink, maybe a game suspension.

An article in The Globe and Mail brought up the question of where is the line and can you cross it. Where does a bad decision on the part of a hockey player become criminal. Dive into stories about Todd Bertuzzi and Marty McSorley. While many of those incidents could just be hockey plays that just went bad, are you still responsible for your actions whether you have a jersey on or not?

Let's take the NHL and the minor leagues out of the equation. What if this happened at a men's beer league at Kettler? Things like this sometimes happen, a hockey play gets out of hand and a stick is being broken over someone's head. Most times that player is banned from the league, sometimes banned from ever coming back to the rink.

Sadly, I have been involved in some of those types of games. Where a guy got hit into the boards from behind after the whistle, or a player took exception to a non penalty call and slashed the referee. When does it stop being hockey and start becoming assault. Obviously there are rules to how far one can go before being tossed from a league or from the rink. But when does the law step in?

For this case in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, the judge is deliberating on what should become of the hockey player that went after another player. One side debating that the victim should have stood up for himself, grabbed the stick of the perpetrator or skated away. The court will decide if the action was "assault causing bodily harm."

It should be interesting to see what the courts ruling will be.

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