Tuesday, December 1, 2009

A Night of Idiocy

The Date: Monday, November 30th, 2009
The Suspects: Alexander Ovechkin and Keith Ballard
The Crime: Idiocy

Last evening provided sports fans with a litany of important information. NFL fans discovered that Tom Brady is human. Leafs fans were provided further evidence that their team is no match for one of the best in the league. Most importantly, hockey fans were treated to two acts of supreme stupidity. While the incidents were completely different in nature, they both demonstrated how short-sighted athletes can be in the heat of competition.

One of the incidents involved Alex Ovechkin, one of the most skilled and exciting players in hockey. Although some will insist his innocence, it is fairly obvious that he caused his knee-on-knee collision with Carolina's Tim Gleason. I have never understood the thought process behind the knee-on-knee. First, it leaves the perpetrator vulnerable to a penalty and/or suspension. Secondly, the victim can be seriously injured. Finally, the player who initiates the collision can be hurt. It is this fact that has always made wonder why anyone would even take the risk. Perhaps there has not been enough cases of the initiator being seriously injured. Ovechkin may have just helped change that, as he seems to have been injured during the play in question. 

Through his actions, Ovechkin showed tremendous irresponsibility not only to Gleason, but to the Washington Capitals. He is the face of the franchise, their best player, and just returned from injury. To risk injury and suspension is truly short-sighted. Not to mention this only adds to Ovechkin's suddenly sagging reputation. His skills are astounding but his attitude of invincibility both on and off the ice is starting to get old.

The other stupid act on Monday evening was committed by Keith Ballard. While Ovechkin's actions may be interpreted in different ways, I don't see how one can offer anything other than condemnation for Ballard. After getting beaten by Ilya Kovalchuk on a breakaway that resulted in an Atlanta goal, Ballard attempted to swing his stick at his own goal post in displeasure. Instead, he accidentally struck his goaltender, Tomas Vokoun, in the head, cutting him open and causing him to have to leave the ice on a stretcher. It seems that Vokoun will be okay but that does not excuse Ballard. 

Swinging a stick (which has been interpreted as a weapon in some legal cases, such as the McSorley case) is always extremely dangerous. That's one of the reasons that making contact with the puck above the crossbar is forbidden. That's also why there is a penalty for high-sticking. Thus, swinging a stick in frustration with no puck and no active play can only by considered utterly moronic. No one on the ice was expecting it. Vokoun certainly wasn't, and if a player happened to be skating behind him, he wouldn't have either. You simply cannot be allowed to act out in frustration on the ice. You can't throw your helmet, wave your stick, kick the air with your skateyou simply never know what will happen. For these reasons I am hoping the NHL sets an example of Ballard. I'm sure he's exceedingly sorry, but that doesn't cut it. He may not have indented to hit anyone but lack of intent does not discount negligence. I think anywhere from 5 to 10 games would be appropriate.

Wow, I am too angry to write a a worthwhile conclusion now. Hopefully, tomorrow will be a better day for brain functionality in the NHL. Then maybe I can also think more clearly.

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