Friday, March 14, 2008

The Power of the Blogosphere

I didn't have time to write about the Chris Pronger stomping incident last night, but my intention was to put up the video and the requisite "You've Got To Be Kidding Me" post today because I thought the issue deserved as much exposure as possible. Well, I have to commend the bloggers of the hockey world and a fair amount of mainstream media writers. In the past 24 hours, the hypocrisy, favoritism, and lack of credibility and accountability in the NHL's department of discipline has received top-story attention all over the place. Islanders VP of Media Relations Chris Botta has weighed in on the matter twice on his blog.

I find it hard to believe that the NHL would revisit the incident because better footage became available. It's a convenient line for the league to put out. But the idea that the original evidence wasn't clear enough to justify a punishment is hard to stomach. The first video was certainly clear enough to launch an outcry from fans and bloggers. And that, my friends, is where we can rejoice in the power of the masses. There was a time when a fan's ability to protest an injustice was limited to call-in radio shows and letters that most likely would never be addressed. Now, of course, those same protests resonate on the Internet where hundreds of writers may call attention to them and thousands of readers will echo their voices. I have no way of knowing if pressure from the blogosphere and other online sources will ultimately be responsible for a do-over. It's shameful that the NHL would need such goading to get this right.

Okposo Net asks of Colin Campbell, "...if the above video isn't evidence enough to suspend Pronger, then it would be nice if you could go public and explain specifically why that is not the case (not that most people will buy it, but at least you're taking some responsibility)." It would be nice, but the NHL has built not explaining itself into its disciplinary process. I understand how not explaining every punishment or lack of punishment prevents the league from tripping over its own words. But building in a lack of accountability surely does not support the integrity of the process and it undermines the credibility of the league. Pronger's rap sheet and most recent offense align perfectly with the precedent that the league has already set for these matters. He is due for 20 games. If he gets anything, I doubt it will be more than five to seven.

As for the double standard being applied in relation to the Islanders, we will likely get nowhere by claiming an institutional bias. All we can do is continue to point out loudly the glaring incidents such as this. Did you notice how Garnet Exelby quietly got away without further punishment for forcefully raising his stick to Blake Comeau's nether regions? It was not an egregious, violent act, but we know that an injury is not required for disciplinary measures to be handed down. As a completely unnecessary and non game-related stick foul, the act deserved at least a symbolic suspension of one game--set the precedent that even thinking about that type of behavior will not be tolerated.

Botta postulates that maybe it is the name on the back of the sweater. What he can't say as a representative of an NHL team is that maybe it's also the logo on the front.

1 comment:

7th Woman said...

and now the league has no choice but to listen to the fanbase....