In the first five days of the quarterfinals alone, there have been 11 misconduct penalties, which is an increase from last year’s six for the whole playoffs.
Involved in the recent abundance of fights were Pittsburg’s Sidney Crosby and Philadelphia’s Claude Giroux, both frequently sidelined for concussions.
New York Rangers Carl Hagelin was suspended three games for elbowing Ottawa’s Daniel Alfredsson and the Senators’ Matt Carkner will sit one game for knocking around Brian Boyle.
The Chicago Blackhawks lost Andrew Shaw for three games after he blasted Phoenix goalie Mike Smith behind the net.
Vancouver’s Byron Bitz was suspended two games last week for a head check on Los Angeles’s Kyle Clifford.
All of these in a season where safety has been promoted and enforced sternly by the NHL, most cases of which have been appealed and disputed by players, coaches and fans alike.
Realizing that hockey fans in Alabama are few and far between, this is not only occurring on the ice. It is on the gridiron as well.
Roger Goodell, commissioner of the NFL, has sent a strong message out to the league by suspending Saint’s coach Sean Payton for the entirety of the 2012 season as well as general manager Mickey Loomis for eight games in reaction to the “Bounty-gate” scandal in which players were being encouraged to seriously injure opponents.
It is obvious that professional sports organizations and their leaders are no longer playing games with the issue of safety at the forefront of their minds. It is no wonder these issues are occurring at an astounding rate.
We can all sit here on the sidelines and complain that the integrity of these sports is being ruined, but the frequency of these problems is increasing with every season.
NHL players are getting into fistfights in the playoffs, making the most exciting part of the season hard to match because of suspension and injury.
NFL players are being incentivized to take players out of games, and star defensive linemen are stomping players on the ground on primetime television.
MLB pitchers like Ubaldo Jimenez are being suspended for intentionally throwing at batters—not for the action, but for their demeanor after the fact.
Those in charge of these leagues cannot be blamed for increasing safety precautions because looking at the number they are just doing their jobs.
The players and coaches can be blamed for committing the offenses, however. They know the rules, and they know that the powers that be are watching intently with a microscope, but still it continues.
Though many may not agree with new rules and extra suspensions and fines, players must wise up and make their actions—deemed wrong by their respective leagues—less frequent and less obvious.
It seems stupid to me that things like this are still occurring. If you play with fire, you will get burned.