|English: Ken Dryden goalie mask, Hockey Hall-of-Fame (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
Ken Dryden, Grantland.com -- Yet if some of the decisions made afterward by the referees,1 by NHL senior vice-president of player safety Brendan Shanahan,2 or even the conclusions drawn by the media were technically wrong or contorted, they seemed right. The consequences of the hit, to many, somehow had to matter. The referees penalized Gryba for interference, even though he had committed no infraction. This wasn't interference. But the referees, somehow, still seemed right. In his reasoned-sounding judgment in suspending Gryba, Shanahan may have split the wrong hairs in concluding that Gryba made principal contact with Eller's head, but Shanahan, somehow, still seemed right. Commentators argued back and forth with each other, but mostly they argued with themselves — But Eller had his head down … but look at the injuries he suffered … But Diaz fed him a suicide pass … but look at the injuries he suffered … But it was a clean check … but look at the injuries he suffered.Dryden goes on. Here it is...
There is another ethic in sports that has also always been there, and still is. It is worn as a badge of honor, particularly by the "tough guys." It goes: I will not hit someone when he is down. I will not hit someone when he is defenseless. There is no courage in that. There is dishonor in the doing. The question in this case: What makes a Gryba hit clean and good on a defenseless Eller when a punch to the face of someone lying on the ice, equally defenseless, is not?It's really not hard to see where this is going. It's a mind set, now we will start spending players that make legal hits, if they severely injure the player that was on the receiving end. This is what happened in the case with Lars Eller. In my opinion, NHL senior vice-president of player safety Brendan Shanahan Eric Gryba because if he hadn't he would have been ripped apart in the Montreal Media. It didn't matter if the hit was a legal hit.
In an age of concussions, maybe the first ethic is wrong. Maybe the second ethic is right. Maybe we don't just have a responsibility to ourselves. Maybe we do have a responsibility to everyone else, too. Maybe that's what the referees, Shanahan, the commentators, and the public are saying.
Maybe things are changing.