Death in the OHA…

Reportedly, Don Sanderson of the OHA Whitby Dunlops has died as a result of complications sustained in a fight during a game on December 12th, 2008.  I’m at a loss for words, in a sense, regarding this tragedy.  I’ve cheered on Marty McSorley and still find myself drawn to crowing for my favorite teams goon when I’m watching an NHL game, but I would hope that Hockey’s leaders will finally take a view to eradicating intentional violence from the game.  The fact that this happened in a league outside of the NHL shows that a “culture of violence” has no place in the sport.  Lives and careers are more important than “Market Value.”  Let’s leave the fighting and killing to the military and the thugs of the world.

http://ca.sports.yahoo.com/nhl/blog/puck_daddy/post/Puck-Headlines-After-tragedy-fight-debate-reac?urn=nhl,132089

Note:  I’ve since learned that the OHA is a league that ejects players from the game for fighting.  I don’t know if it changes anything, but it must be considered by both factions in the “fighting” debate.  To the ‘anti-fighting” crowd I think it shows that harsher penalties for fighting don’t mean there won’t be fighting – which would appease the ‘pro-fighting’ guys a bit.  But, for the ‘pro-fighting’ crowd the fact that there are harsher penalties and yet a death still occurred indicates that harsher penalties won’t change much of anything.

Of course there are those that compare the dangers of fighting in hockey to the dangers of driving a car, but they obviously don’t have much education because the potential for danger while driving does not come paired with the freedom to ram into drivers you don’t like.

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15 Comments

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15 responses to “Death in the OHA…

  1. hockeyhockeyhockey

    slight correction – it’s not the OHL, which is the Ontario Hockey League, i.e. Major Junior A, it was the Ontario Hockey Association Whitby Dunlops which is a Senior AAA hockey team.
    Rather than waiting for the NHL to ban fighting (which they won’t) perhaps you could “be the change you want to see in the world” (Gandhi) and stop “crowing” for your team’s enforcer.
    Fighting is not integral to hockey.

  2. worldhockeydaily

    Thanks for the correction and thanks for the link to the other blog.
    It’s funny you say I should stop “crowing” for the enforcers. I haven’t gone to a game in a long time (expensive, isn’t it?) so my “crowing” is more done on the couch, but I get what you’re saying. I’m really tired of the fights in the game and enjoy the international tournaments and the NHL playoffs (where it’s a rarity) to the NHL regular season.
    I’m really saddened that this happened and just hope something is done to fracture the culture of it, and it’s prevalence.
    I think, hopefully, this story will bring up the discussion, and that those in charge will realize that hockey’s popularity is in the toilet because a majority of the world thinks hockey is for neanderthals. I can’t imagine why people would be more willing to watch two and a half hours of commercials during football rather than the beautiful, flowing game of hockey – other than that they’re turned off by the b.s. of thuggery.

    If you could change the rules yourself to deal with fights in the game, how would you do it?

    I think ejections from the game are a start but it’s got to be a slow transition. The NHL can’t handle the money-loss that would follow if they were too radical on this. But, maybe we’ve been heading for this and it’s finally time to do something REAL.

    What do you think?

  3. Sean

    Great blog!

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Hockey’s great. Except when played by Canadians.

    I’m not surprised by this death. And I’m sure the Canadian media will either bury this story or justify it in some way, by saying that maybe his death prevented three other deaths that would have occurred if fighting wasn’t condoned.

    You have to love Canadian logic when it comes to violence in hockey.

  4. worldhockeydaily

    Sean,

    The USA is not innocent on this one. Most owners are American in the NHL, and most fans want to keep it in the game, it seems. I’d prefer a more “soccer” influenced game and leagues where fighting leads to ejections, and there are promotion/relegation systems in place. I think it would help hockey gain supporters and create a league that is more compelling. I’m sure it’ll never happen, but its nice to dream about.
    If you haven’t, check out my article “5 Ways…” which I initially wrote thinking NHL, but changed when I realized the NHL board of governors doesn’t know its ass from a hole in the ground.

    Finally, I love the hard-hitting, intimidating hockey of North America, I just think it can still be intense if the penalties for fighting are made much more strict. I don’t know if ejection from the game is enough, but it would be a decent starting point. I think that if the rule ever went through, many, many “players” would be out of their jobs.

    Thanks for the kind words…

  5. coach

    This sucks. Very sad thing. He suffered a coma after hitting his head on the ice. So, it wasn’t that he got beaten on by someone. I don’t follow much senior hockey, but this is the AAA league. From what I know a glorified beer league for players, that gave up on the dream, but haven’t really given up.
    Anyway I do know that, this league does have a fight rule. It is an automatic game misconduct, and I think if you fight in the 3rd, you are out for the next too? So with that being said this league is ahead of the NHL. That’s the same punishment you would get for a fight in a baseball or basketball game
    In my opinion the pefect game is one without a fight, but one where players realize that if they take liberties, stickwork, etc, they may be held accountable.
    I hate the way the NHL has the “staged” fight. Where 2 meatsauces, I’ll use two Californian players, Parros and Ivanans decide to fight, just for the hell of it. This is stupid. This is a useless fight, solving nothing, just wasting roster spots, in my opinion.
    Players like Iginla, Lecavlier, and even Kovalchuk to an extent can take care of the business if and when it is needed. None of them will ever go out and have a random “staged” fight though. Not too many years ago the league was like this. Players like Cam Neely, Brenden Shanahan, Gary Roberts all point per game players, would deal with stuff, but only when it needed dealt with. If you knew you were playing one of these guys, you focused on hockey, so very seldem did they have to do anything.
    Cris I would like you to picture a league where they suspend you for 100 games for a fight. No one would fight obviously, but look out for the stickwork. Players would all be trying to throw the biggest hit. The little Euro tricks would be rampent. Buttends, spears, etc. I know you haven’t been watching international hockey for very long, but before the NHL became so global, you would play teams with players you would never see again. This was the dirtiest hockey there was, because NO ONE ever felt accountable. (look up Gretzky’s rant from the 02′ olympics. I think he described it best, and who better to describe hockey than the Great One.
    The local jr b league around here, with canadian and american teams, recently switched to half visors, from full shields. I was skeptacle at first, but it has completely cut the stickwork out. Players used to be in full armour, but now they have to be careful, because they aren’t so protected. The little cheap guy, can’t be so cheap anymore. His face is exposed.

    Anyway, the NHL had been the discussing the matter of removing helmets, before fights. If Don’s helmet hadn’t been removed. The impact on the ice would have been different.
    The CHL gives you a penalty for removing your helmet before a fight.
    The NHL gives you a penalty for NOT removing your helmet if you wear a visor.
    I’d like to see the NHL grandfather a rule for visors, then throw in a non helmet removing rule.
    wow I’ve gone on forever. I’m just trying to give kid’s view on the game, growing up in Ontario, but with a level head on my shoulder.
    PS I’ve only ever fought twice in my life. I’m 6’6” 210, and a rather fierce temper, but I feel he who carries the biggest stick knows how to not use it. Also everyone is afraid of me, which I laugh at, because I’m secretly afraid of a lot of people that were afraid of me.

  6. worldhockeydaily

    coach – excellent work. I especially agree with your comments:
    “I hate the way the NHL has the “staged” fight. Where 2 meatsauces, I’ll use two Californian players, Parros and Ivanans decide to fight, just for the hell of it. This is stupid. This is a useless fight, solving nothing, just wasting roster spots, in my opinion.”
    I’m so tired of this crap. I’m all in favor of the OHA’s ruling on fights and think its a perfect place/model to try and find the right balance.

    I think the arguments about stick work have merit, but also realize that there were some of the worst stick-infractions and dirtiest plays in the golden era of hockey – 50’s, 60’s. Ted Green for instance. I’m born in ’70, so I didn’t see it first hand, but the stories are in the books and on the NHL Network. I like the fact that the half-visor is helping cut down on the elbows/high-sticks. It does make for more carefully, legal play when everything is exposed. I know we can never go back, but I liked the helmetless era. It’s a small, nit-picking thing – but I also hate the NFL shoulderpads.

    But back to the fighting issue. I don’t necessarily think it needs to be anything too crazy – like 40 games or even 10 – but if we cut down on it seriously, and like you said, were able to get the crap-hockey-players-who-fight out of the league, Hockey would chart it’s path to the top of the Sporting heap, just below soccer/football. One blogger/comment on THN proposed harsh bans on fighting in every league below the NHL, thereby eradicating the fighters before they get there. He makes a great point that fights like Lecavalier/Iginla can have it’s place in the game, in a sense.

    There are certainly a lot of opinions, but it’s great to hear reasonable thoughts on this very touchy issue.

    BTW – It’s not that I haven’t seen international hockey, but the volume I’ve been able to see is much, much less than yours. I did see most of the Olympic tourneys since the early 90’s, the World Cup of Hockey that the USA won, and a small handful of previous WJC games. My friend gets to play in the Bruckheimer pick-ups and has played with a lot of pros and prospects, namely in this case – Robbie Earl, Loktionov, and I’m sure some of the other U-20 and U-18 guys from recent years. He’s the luckiest bastard I know. I’ve got a good story for you that he got to live from last winter. It involves Igor and Moscow. I’ll leave it at that for now, but just imagine a dream and turn it up a notch and that’s what he got to do….
    More later….
    Cheers.

  7. hockeyhockeyhockey

    Cheering on McSorely? Not a great example, cheering for an individual who was found guilty of “assault with a deadly weapon” for hitting Brashear over the head with his stick. Unfortunately, you seem to fail to realise how dangerous and asinine stickwork is (Tangradi).

    You enjoy international tournies because there is no fighting. Interesting that it’s an American, T. Ruth who fights in the Czech game at the WJC and is ejected.

    The Canadian media / Canadians in general are using this tragedy for discussions about fighting. There are many Canadians and Canadian media on both sides of the debate, and they are deeply entrenched in their views. Again it’s interesting that Colin Campbell (VP Hockey Operations, Canadian) was quoted (March 2007) as saying that it was time to open a debate on banning fighting from hockey, and then he was forced to backtrack and shut up, the implication being Gary Bettman (American) was applying pressure on him.

    I second the idea of grandfathering the use of visors. However, rules about removing/not removing helmets are just a red herring to divert attention from the main issue of fighting.

    Fighting could be banned if the NHL were willing. If the penalty was severe enough, and I would be fine with 20+ games for a first offence, and lifetime ban for a subsequent offence (2nd if I’m being hardline, 3rd if I am being more lax) that would get rid of most if not all fighting. I agree that those “staged” fights are ridiculous. The reffing would also have to be vigilent to address coach’s fear about an increase in stickwork (which I loathe)
    However, given the economic climate perhaps a reduction in the number of teams (rumour Phoenix couldn’t make payroll in Dec and was helped out by the league) would decrease the number of marginal players in the league: survival of the most skilled.

  8. coach

    “One blogger/comment on THN proposed harsh bans on fighting in every league below the NHL, thereby eradicating the fighters before they get there. ”
    I was going to say something about this, because most people don’t know it or probably believe it, but most “fighters” were point/game players in junior or better.
    My prime example is Josh Gratton now with the Flyers. He played in my hometown point a game that year, then next year he played the same level in a different league and started the year in 9 games he had 9 goals, 18 assists, and 30 pims. He was called up immediately to the OHL, where he didn’t put up 3points/game, but still put up numbers. Now he is where he is.

  9. worldhockeydaily

    HHH,

    I’m a little older than I was when McSorley was running riot in LA. I have a different perspective now and hope I’ve learned a few things. It was all before the Vancouver incident anyway.

    Ruth got in a fight and got ejected. That’s exactly what I’m proposing the NHL start with.

    Bettman is bad for everything NHL…I have no idea why he is the Commish or why the owners keep him there. I think the entire NHL is going bankrupt soon. Maybe Canada can buy back some of it’s teams at bargain prices.

    I don’t think the ban would have to be that harsh to be effective in reducing the fighting. But, maybe that IS the best way. I’m sure that some serious investigation into the idea would need to be done. I think, ultimately, hockey would be better without it in the game but that more compromise is necessary in order to just get on the road to the future.

    In order to get fighting out, though, you have to hold officials accountable for their bad calls/missed calls and there must necessarily follow – many growing pains.

    Thanks for weighing in. Respectful dialog is essential to making this happen, and work.

  10. worldhockeydaily

    BTW,
    Is the font coming up HUGE in your “comment” boxes?
    I’m trying to figure out how to change it, and I’m assuming everyone’s are the same.

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  12. cristobal

    Uh, thanks Barry…

  13. cristobal

    I found this response to some of my comments on THN amusing.

    “cristobal–yyyyawn me. Fighting is an internal self-disciplining backbone of hockey. We know its been watered down recently and has lost some of its purity and effectiveness thanks to YOU Pop Culture Clowns who try to increase disrespect and at the same time take away any right of self defense. Just as You do in Society. Let’s call YOU the Tort-Hockey Fans, the ones who should be clamoring at chess matches when a contestant applies to much finger pressure when handling his pawns. Leave us and hockey alone and that would include all the dead-pan journalists who so sensitively write articles for the applause of other journalists instead of writing pieces for true Hockey Fans. Go dry your shorts!”

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