The GM meeting is happening in sunny Boca Raton – if ever there was a location that stereotyped the NHL leadership, it’s a golfing resort in southern Florida. Did no one think to suggest that maybe the location of the Golden Girls would only reinforce the idea that the NHL executive is past it’s expiration date?
Geography aside, the big news today is Bettman’s 5-point plan otherwise known as, reactionary reactionism. Too little, too late Bettman, no amount of Office Space jargon, or powerpoint presentation lingo is going to change public opinion of you or your Vice President and Director of Hockey Operations who you affectionately call “Colie”. I know I am nitpicking here, but I don’t call my co-workers “Newty” or “Nady” or any other amalgamation of their last name with the letter “Y”. It again just plays into the thought that Bettman is running an old boys club.
Let’s look at Bettman’s statement from this morning and his 5-point plan:
- Only 17% of hits are from illegal hits.
Flaw: Not all illegal hits are caught, suspended and then recorded as illegal hits. So this stat is basically meaningless since many an illegal hit is deemed legal.
- Dealing with concussions isn’t something you do whimsically or emotionally, you have to understand it
Flaw: The NHL has been trying to understand it for the better part of 5 years now… I could have earned a PhD in concussions by now.
- His 5-point plan is a good start, it’s just too bad that the NHL is being reactionary instead of proactive. These 5-points have been discussed by fans and media for a good long while now, it’s as though Bettman Googled “NHL concussions” and then stole five ideas from discussion boards and blog posts.
I would just like to quickly go over Bettman’s 5-point plan. It’s not that I want to be a wet-blanket, I just feel as though this plan is really more hot air than actual action. If this plan were presented to me, I would definitely need to see what action steps would be taken to execute this 5-point plan. If they do not have the action plan yet, then that goes back to my original thought, this is a reactionary statement and not an actual plan.
1- Brendan Shanahan and his equipment evaluation.
What exactly is Shanahan going to do? What resources are available to him for equipment testing? Is he in contact with a “crash-test-dummy” style firm that can stimulate on-ice conditions and test the impact of different materials? And if the conclusion is that drastic changes need to be made to the design of the equipment, who is going to try and sell that concept to manufacturers?
2- Concussion Protocol revisions
I actually see this one having an immediate impact and can be put into place starting tonight. The SCAT (who thought of that acronym by the way!) evaluation already exists. Teams have doctors. There are quiet areas to take players. Tic Tack Toe… this can be executed very easily.
3- Holding Club and Coaches responsible for repeat offenders
I don’t buy it. Will they be using the same decision making process that they use for suspensions? Because if so, we are all in for a lot of frustration, confusion and inconsistency. This has been said before, and I whole heartedly agree… the NHL needs to hire a third party advisory committee when it comes to all issues of discipline, or else this point, like all matters of discipline, will become a bad NHL joke.
4- Evaluating arenas with safety engineers.
I do agree that all arenas should have a standard rule when it comes to Plexi over Seamless glass. But again, this is blaming the stanchion (turnbuckle, steel post, whatever) for the incident. I am no “safety engineer”, but the turnbuckle is there because there needs to be glass to protect the fans. It’s like one band-aid over another band-aid over another band-aid. Other than a complete re-design of existing structures, I don’t see what said safety engineer will be able to suggest.
5-Continuing to work on this issue with four hall of fame eligible players.
That’s great. Do you think when they are done they will also give autographs? I’m being overly cynical, and I actually think the combination of Brendan Shanahan, Rob Blake,Joe Nieuwendyk, and Steve Yzerman is great. But what exactly are they going to research that hasn’t been researched already? And how much weight do their recommendations have? If they recommend that Campbell should be replaced by a more neutral party, will Bettman listen? If they recommend that all hits to the head, regardless of intention, should be suspended? Will they be taken seriously? Because short of those drastic recommendations, I don’t feel they can have any real impact.