Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Al-kee-hawl and hockey

It has been a summer of controversy in the world of sports, and the NHL was in the mix. Sure, we didn't have referees gambling, but we had one assistant coach plead guilty to being involved with a gambling operation. We didn't have players killing dogs, but we had players getting into trouble because of alcohol.

As Bob McCown and Stephen Brunt said tonight on Prime Time Sports, it is alcohol that is the drug of choice for hockey players.

Alcohol has been a part of hockey since the beginning of the game, and a number of players have gotten into serious trouble because of it. I applaud the NHL's decision of placing Mark Bell in the substance abuse program and suspending him indefinitely because it shows that they will not take this issue lightly.

Driving drunk is not acceptable, and I wonder if the NHL will take action with Jay Bouwmeester, who pleaded guilty to impaired driving today in Edmonton. Bouwmeester's case is not the same as Bell's, since he did not get into an accident and hurt someone, so I'm not sure if they can suspend him like they did Bell. I suspect that he will get a stern talking-to by the League and the Panthers, but I'm not convinced that he will suffer the same fate as Bell.

In any case, I think the NHL should develop a policy of sorts as it pertains to alcohol - "If you drink and drive, you get such and such punishment" and so forth. It wouldn't prevent all incidents and accidents, but who knows, maybe it would prevent one and maybe someone's life would be saved.

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