Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Bettman throws the book at Bell

Well, sort of.

The NHL announced today that they have suspended Toronto Maple Leafs' Mark Bell for 15 games without pay for a DUI and hit-and-run accident in September 2006.

"Playing in the National Hockey League is a privilege, and with that privilege comes a corresponding responsibility for exemplary conduct off the ice as well as on it," said NHL Commish Gary Bettman.

I applaud the NHL for taking a stand and not ignoring the incident. Some may say that it's a 'slap on the wrist', but I don't think that's the case. A 15-game suspension is pretty significant (just think of what you have to do to get that kind of suspension), and he's facing a 6-month jail sentence at the end of the season. Bell seems to have turned his life around and he appears to be truly remorseful, so I think that the NHL's decision is appropriate.

Question is: what will happen with Jay Bouwmeester? Will the NHL hand him a suspension as well? I think that they must do something, even if it's only a 5 game suspension. If Bettman does nothing, then his message will be lost.

Next up for Bettman is to deal with the Rick Tocchet situation. I expect that Tocchet will be suspended for at least a year, in addition to his 'time served', given the current climate in the sports world.

Does Bettman want to appear soft when it comes to dealing with gambling in his league? Absolutely not.

Will his decision end up being 'soft'? Eh, who knows...but I hope not.

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