You know hockey violence is getting out of control when noted commentator and former National Hockey League pugilist Mike Milbury – who once infamously warned against the ‘pansification’ of hockey – says a player should be banned from the league.
Milbury is calling for New York Islander Trevor Gillis to be kicked out of the NHL. Gillis served a nine game suspension for charging and concussing Pittsburgh Penguins forward Eric Tangradi with a high elbow to the head before landing several punches in a one-sided fight. Four shifts into his first game back from the suspension, Gillis head-hunted Minnesota Wild player Cal Clutterbuck with a hit from behind. NHL disciplinarian Colin Campbell described Gillies’s hit as a deliberate attempt to injure by delivering a blow to the head of an unsuspecting player who was unable to defend himself. Then he gave Gillis a feeble 10 game suspension.
On a related note, the Edmonton Journal just published an article I wrote entitled, ‘Violence on the ice is getting out of control’ about a Canadian university hockey player being attacked by a ‘repeat offender’ who had already been suspended in two different leagues for injuring opposing players. Here are a few excerpts:
Hockey got yet another black eye last week when University of Alberta Golden Bears hockey player Eric Hunter was attacked by University of British Columbia Thunderbird Mike Liambas …. In an incident eerily similar to Vancouver Canuck Todd Bertuzzi’s assault on Steve Moore of the Colorado Avalanche, Hunter suffered facial cuts and a concussion after being punched in the head from the side and behind and then driven into the ice by Liambas.
Hockey is a violent game but the violence is getting out of control. Too many players are getting hurt. Players – including Bertuzzi have been convicted of assault. Civil lawsuits – including Steve Moore’s ongoing $38-million suit against Bertuzzi and the Canucks – are no longer out of the ordinary.
It is time gratuitous violence in hockey was no longer considered normal and that teams did more to self-regulate and leagues did more than impose slap-on-the-wrist penalties.
Hunter is a young man studying business at the U of A who accepted the risks ordinarily inherent to playing hockey, such as being tripped, cross-checked and fighting. He would not, however, have consented to enduring a blindside hit and being driven into the ice.
Canadian university hockey should not suffer if the league doesn’t have the moral courage to do the right thing. Universities should send a message that thuggery will never be tolerated by kicking players off their teams if and when it occurs … Liambas should be prohibited from playing in the league.