Ian left a comment about Mark Bell I wanted to pull out into its own posting:
Two for Elbowing: More on Mark Bell:
Something really smells about the NHL suspending Bell out of the blue, after he played in the league for a year, and after the terms of his plea bargain were set (i.e. agreeing to start his prison stay after the NHL season).
It’s clearly intended as some sort of statement to other players, but I don’t know what that statement is, exactly. It smacks of grandstanding,
I had the same reaction: I couldn’t believe that the punishment by the NHL wasn’t agreed upon as everything else was being worked out, because it makes no sense for Bell to set up his prison so he can play the season — only to have the NHL suspend him. Either the NHL is being a twit here, or Bell’s agent blew it big time in coordinating the details.
Now, if Bell only misses a few games, it’s a symbolic slap on the wrist, and that’s not so bad, but right now, this isn’t making the NHL look good — letting him play an entire season before suspending him is stupid; either he has a problem and they should have gotten him into the program a year ago, or he doesn’t, and this makes no sense other than some kind of grandstanding stunt.
Now, having said that, I can understand the league waiting until the court action is done to punish Bell — that’s due process — but this wasn’t presented as a punishment, this was presented as being put into a substance abuse program. Suspending him a few games for a braincramp that makes the league look bad? fine. Putting him into an abuse program when it’s not warranted? Makes the league look bad.
And there’s no indication there is an abuse problem here, just the results of a mistake and a long court case.
I’m not exactly Mark Bell’s biggest fan here — but what the league is doing is at best badly communicated to the real world, and that’s making the league look punitive and arbitrary.
Here’s hoping this — at the least — gets clearly explained and put behind everyone….