Update: Kyle Cicerella, the Marlies reporter for AM640, reported that the team is not calling it a concussion yet but are saying that he had stitches on his eyebrow and 'had his bell rung'. Great.
In tonight's 6-5 win by the Toronto Marlies over the Rochester Americans, Florida Panthers "prospect" Eric Selleck laid a garbage hit on Leafs prospect Joe Colborne. You might recognize him as the player that came to Toronto in the Tomas Kaberle trade otherwise known as a player with a future. Eric Selleck, in addition to not being fit to carry the name of Magnum P.I., is a filler player with no future in the NHL. The referees rightly assessed a five minute major for interference - but that never happens right? - and sent him to an early shower.
The hit was atrocious but what is worse is that these kind of hits aren't going anywhere.
One of the most common, and frankly tired, refrains that arise whenever there is a questionable (or downright dirty although good luck getting a consensus) hit in the NHL is that rascally players today don't have quite the same level of respect as the titans of the past. I don't buy it. For one, thanks to free agency players today are far less invested in hating their opponent since they probably played with them before.
One of the main reasons it seems that there is a lack of respect is that information is much more prevalent. If there is a questionable hit you are guaranteed to see the video on TSN, Sportsnet, The Score, and possibly ESPN if it's less questionable and more certainly dirty. God help you if you are active online. Then you'll see every team-related blog chime in, every major blog, and if you're on Twitter then everyone with an opinion whether MSM or not will offer their thoughts. Sometimes it's great. Eventually, it's too much. But at the end of the day, the problem with players isn't that they aren't respectful of each other. It's that they are stupid and the NHL allows them to be because of their ludicrous disciplinary system.
Case in point, the hit above serves no purpose other than as an intent to injure. As Selleck's skating to lay the hit he's not thinking about the consequences because he knows that nothing of consequence will happen to him unless something serious happens to the target of his hit. For a minor-league scrub it's worth it to throw that hit because unless the other guy is seriously injured he knows that the net benefit of the attention it will get him outweighs the piddly suspension he'll pick up. If the NHL, via the AHL, wants to get hits like this out of the game and combat players' natural stupidity by rolling up a huge newspaper and swatting Selleck on his nose. Giving him 20-30 games would send a message to the rest of the league. Would it be out of line? I bet most would say yes because they're conditioned to based suspensions on the outcome of a hit rather than on the act.
Even worse is that we already know that Selleck is a dirty player. There's no need to worry that a 'good guy' and a 'great teammate' is getting suspended. In an earlier game against the Marlies he stuck his knee out on Nazem Kadri. Selleck has clearly understood hockey's message that the best way to make the leap from minor league plug to NHL plug is to lay these kinds of borderline hits. It's hard to blame him for following the clearly laid path.
Update: January 25, 2013
Apparently, this made it's way to one of Eric Selleck's relatives and they were not happy. It took six months but I finally saw this comment on our facebook page:
Apologies for the error in the original article that overlooked that Nick Selleck is also a piece of garbage and homophobic to boot.