Sunday, August 24, 2008

Ban the Adults

A ton of words but very little meaning is how we are viewing both the just released "Report of the Advisory Committee to the Commissioner of the QMJHL on "fighting, brawling and other acts of gratuitous violence" as well as recommendations from Hockey Quebec.

From the QMJHL report, what we saw was that basically a bunch of folks held some meetings, talked a lot and then offered the "bird" to the Quebec Minster of Sports, Education and Leisure Michelle Courchesne's demand for changes after the brawl between the Quebec Remparts and Chicoutimi Sagueneens during the QMJHL playoffs.

At the same time, looking at what the folks at Hockey Quebec want to see happen and you might as well dress players up in those Sumo outfits you see fans wearing between periods. Suspensions galore if you fight, check or have a potty mouth is their way of looking at things.

Of course nobody asked us but we think that the biggest problem in junior hockey is not fighting, it is not those once in a while team brawls but rather adults. Yes we are dead serious when we say that the biggest problem in junior hockey is adults but we ask that you hear us out before you think we have lost it.

For starters, go take a close look at who made up these committees ask "why nobody bothered to include any of the QMJHL players on these committees?" After all this may sound crazy but these "kids" have more than a vested interest here as we are talking their futures, their hockey careers and strange as this sounds to those committee members; their health.

Why not have included a Bobby Nadeau and ask him what changes he thinks are needed to combat the dumb stuff in hockey. Shocker that Nadeau who is now 20 just might have his own ideas as a player as to what he would do especially since he was the victim in the Jonathan Roy attack.

Neither the QMJHL group or those with Hockey Quebec listed any mention of what perhaps the players in their own league might think would be a good idea. Not all of these players are 16 or 17 but rather they are in many cases 18-20 years old.

That several of them have even played in the QMJHL for 3-4 years just may have given them an insight as to what is going on with their league on and off the ice. Yet we saw no sign that anyone even bothered to talk to them really bothers us.

We point the finger at adults because in our eyes while Jonathan Roy is facing criminal charges for what he did (and we will pass for now on whether they are needed), the person who was shown on tape gesturing for his player/son to go fight Nadeau is not facing charges in Patrick Roy.

Now that one we just have to ask how come Daddy Roy is not standing next to his son in that same court of law? We could take up several paragraphs here on how Daddy Roy could have stopped his son from attacking Nadeau not the least of which not gesturing for him to go after Nadeau.

To us, what happened during that game could have been prevented if coaches (adults) had done their jobs at controlling their players or had not chosen to put out the choice of players that they did out there. It was not the kids who make the line changes, it is the coaches (adults).

It was the officiating crew (still more adults) that lost control of the game with some really poor calls on both teams. When a game is getting out of hand on the scoreboard, then that is when the officials need to grab firm control and prevent what happened in that game.

At the first sign of a problem you give someone the boot and keeping kicking people out until a team either gets the message or run out of players. An official can send both teams to the locker rooms if he feels that the game is out of control so use that authority.

To be honest, our own belief was that the Quebec Minister of Sports, Education and Leisure Michelle Courchesne did what most politicians do when it comes to stupid acts which is to overreact and demanding knee jerk responses to what happens. What happened during that game was stupid there is no question about it; however it is not an everyday occurrence which means it should be handled in an case by case basis.

We do agree with some of what the QMJHL suggests but we want to add more to them:

Two referees be used in all games

Great idea but we also want to see linesmen empowered to either make penalty calls or inform the referees about calls that were missed so they can go back and make those calls. It is something that we feel is long overdue at all levels of the game.

Better training be provided for officials.

This is where we feel the NHL has a responsibility to work in partnership with the juniors and NCAAs to help develop officials. If the CHL or NCAA is a feeding ground for NHL players then it should also be one for the officials. We also would like to see increased pay for the officials at this level to help keep the more experienced ones involved as money does become an issue down the road.

Automatic fines for coaches whose players commit acts of gratuitous violence.

Oh no sorry but we have a better idea, make it automatic suspensions in additions to fines (which our eyes should be a game check). But wait we have more as we want it to be on an escalating scale so a coach knows that the 1 gamer will lead to a 5 gamer and up.

Anyone want to bet that a coach who is facing the loss of paychecks will take more control over his team? The coach is the adult here, the coach is the one who decides who goes out on the ice and who doesn't.

This one is the only one that we will take from the Hockey Quebec report:

If the fight happens in the last five minutes of play or overtime, the players involved will be penalized an additional game and their coaches will also be suspended for one game.

We will change that to a one game suspension for both player and coach; but here we are going to add fines for the team AND now General Manager that will start at 1,000 per offense (right now most fines are 100-500). Want to bet an owner will demand changes when he is seeing it come out of his pocket?

As for the General Manager, we decided to add him because in most cases at the CHL level, he is also the coach but we all know who stocks the roster. If a team adds players who's role is to simply be the goon then let the person who is in charge also realize that he too will have a price to pay and make him take an active role on team behavior.

The Hockey Quebec report went too far in our eyes with these recommendations wanting 2 game suspensions for the first offense but even more so we wonder what happens if the QMJHL rejects their rules? The QMJHL has teams in Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward, and Maine in the US then what about the other provinces who do not adopt those rules?

Even more so how can one in Quebec expect to take this seriously when the Montreal Canadians (who according to our map play in Quebec) during the off-season just signed George Laraque to fill the role of enforcer.

How does Madame Minister answer when the Montreal Canadians signed a player who's number one role on the team is to fight? If her response will be because it is adults playing in an adult league then sorry Madame Minister then you fail to realize that the biggest problem in hockey is not the fighting, it is not the brawling or it is not the gratuitous violence.

It is the adults so why not first ban them and see if the fighting will go down.

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