You know, no matter how hard I have tried to stay uninvolved from the Chris Pronger discussions – I can’t now that the league has handed down their decision on his “punishment”. There are so many different opinions on this matter that it really boggles the mind how anyone can actually support the decision making of this league in any sense.
Islander fans are obviously incensed, as Chris Simon appears to have been given a harsher punishment for his repeat offender status, some blame bigotry and prejudice which is a serious allegation. Others have simply claimed that there is a clear cut double standard working against the players not of top tier quality, while a large portion feels that the two incidents are not even equal because of the where and when each incident occurred.
Chris Simon’s stomp on Ruutu occurred after play had stopped when Ruutu was prone on the ice and Pronger’s stomp on Kesler occurred while Kesler was prone at Pronger’s feet after a hit. The arguments on the severity of Simon’s suspension claim he had premeditated a stomp because he and Ruutu had tussled earlier in the game. Those in support of Pronger say that it was a heat of the moment, split second bad decision so the two incidents differ in that respect. However, the incidents are exactly the same – Pronger’s may actually be worse as to where he actually caught Kesler (on the back of his calf as opposed to the skate on Ruutu).
Chris Pronger and Chris Simon have more than just a first name in common, they are both viewed as dirty players in the league, they are also both “repeat offenders” in the eyes of those who are fans of the game. Pronger has even been suspended for a stick swinging incident and was suspended TWICE in last years playoffs alone. What is different is that Pronger is a star and Simon, is a fourth line grinder and role player. Therein lies the problem for the league, do you come down as hard on someone like Pronger when he has a history or do you show no disparity and hand out equal punishments due to a now set precedent?
James Mirtle, whom I have come to respect a great deal over the course of two seasons points out something very interesting in his latest blog post. Mirtle always has numbers in his posts, a majority of the time lists great graphs and charts to support his view – this time he has worked out the time on ice lost for each team given the players respective suspensions:
I suppose the only argument you can make to justify the differing length in the bans to Pronger and Chris Simon is that one spends an awful lot more time on the ice than the other. Eight games without Pronger could be as many as 240 minutes missed on the ice; 30 games without Simon is probably just more than 300.
While I agree in a sense that the suspension of Pronger hits harder for the Ducks than Simon for the Islanders, the point is moot – if the league has already set a precedent on a type of infraction you must adhere to the set standards otherwise a suspension will not keep these types of things from occurring in the future.
Mirtle also visits how one would react if a “star” player on your team is suspended:
This is the problem with throwing the book at fringe players; how then do you react when a very similar action is taken by one of your stars?
If a player on the team I follow is suspended for something like Pronger or Simon, I would support the leagues decision and likely think less of the player. Simon caused the Islanders a great deal of trouble for both of his incidents and fell out of favor. I would feel the same way if a super-star had a lapse in judgment. I can see Mirtle’s point though, the league doesn’t want to lose fans – but that’s a piss poor excuse not to hand Pronger 30 games.
Eight games is a lot for Pronger to miss; eight games is probably the right call.
Clearly at this point, I disagree with Mirtle’s assessment of the situation. While I acknowledge that the league was certainly in a hairy predicament, they made their own bed with this one and should have kept Pronger out the remainder of the season and however long the Ducks are in the playoffs to make the suspension more palatable to me. Way to drop the ball on this one – furthering the opinion by many fans that there is some sort of deep rooted hatred or conspiracy* against the Islanders. Campbell needs to be removed from his position over this quandary, for sure.
*Disclaimer: I am not among the mass of fans who believe there is a conspiracy against the Islanders, but I do beleive there is a lack of equal respect towards the organization.
Some reaction after I made the post by Ken over at Islanders Outsider brings up valid points. He reminds us all that the Simon video was grainy – and the NHL claims grainy footage of the incident is the original reason why no suspension was handed out. Ken also says that the league felt that Pronger’s foot was tangled and he was trying to free himself. I don’t buy that one – was he trying to cut Kesler’s leg off in an attempt to free his foot? Here is the exact quote from Colin Campbell:
“In attempting to free himself, Pronger carelessly and recklessly brought his foot down,” said Colin Campbell, NHL Senior Executive Vice President and Director of Hockey Operations.
Who ever believes this senseless drivel needs to sit and have a cup of coffee and then check out the photo at the top of the post in order to really form their own opinion of this. Unbelievable.