Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Bell suspended 15 games

Commissioner Gary Bettman has put the hammer down on Maple Leafs forward Mark Bell today, suspending the troubled forward for 15 regular season games (without pay) for his driving under the influence and hit and run incident in the fall of 2006.

Bell was sentenced to six months in jail earlier this summer.
"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 Commissioner Gary Bettman.
This is an interesting development, especially considering Toronto GM John Ferguson was on sports radio all last week saying he didn't believe Bell would miss any time this season. I also can't recall the last time the NHL dealt a suspension of this length for off-ice conduct (please feel free to fill me in).

It would be incredibly naive to think there's not some connection between this move by the league and all of the off-ice discipline that's occurred in other major-league sports recently, something that's been pointed to as a 'crack down' on the bad boys of sport.

Bettman doesn't want to seem as though he's being lax, and this certainly qualifies. What I really wonder is where does the sliding scale end, and how does this affect a player like Jay Bouwmeester who was involved in a similar incident? What about Dany Heatley, who was charged with first-degree vehicular homicide after a dangerous driving incident that resulted in the death of his teammate and friend Dan Snyder?

Bell pleaded no contest to the charges on Aug. 15, and is currently in stage two of the league's substance abuse program.

Ferguson will be appearing on the Fan 590 just after 12:30, and I'll try to have a few words from him here.

"I disagreed with the severity and the length for various reasons," Ferguson said. "I say that but I respect the decision.

"Mark has taken responsibility for his actions, he has had a perfect record in the program for the year that he has been in it. I give him credit for that."

Ferguson said he expects the 15 games will begin from the start of the season and that Bell will be cleared by program doctors prior to then.

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12 Comments:

At 12:04 PM, September 12, 2007, Blogger The Puck Stops Here said...

The suspension is not for the crime. If it was, the suspension would have occurred in 2006. The suspension is for his being sentenced to jail. It was what made the NHL look bad so they had to respond with a suspension.

 
At 12:17 PM, September 12, 2007, Blogger Earl Sleek said...

Wait, the league is allowed to suspend non-Ducks? Interesting.

 
At 12:23 PM, September 12, 2007, Blogger Art Vandelay said...

I'm not a PA rep, and I realize that NFL contracts have a "good behaviour" clause, but aren't the criminal courts supposed to mete out criminal justice? How do leagues get away with unilaterally imposing a civil penalty by taking away a player's right to make a living? What does drunk driving have to do with putting the puck in the net?

 
At 12:45 PM, September 12, 2007, Blogger saskhab said...

I don't see what the NHL is doing wrong here for suspending now instead of earlier... Bell was innocent until proven guilty.

I don't know if this is precedent setting or not, but I'll say this about Bouwmeester vs. Bell...

The courts view their actions very differently, even though they were essentially the same. Because one action resulted in injury of another person and monetary damage, he is sentenced to jail. Because guys like Ian White & Jay Bouwmeester didn't hurt anyone, they got off light. The NHL, by only suspending Bell, is only reflecting how society deals out justice.

So why should the NHL suspend Bouwmeester or White if we as a society believe that "well, he didn't hurt anyone" is a reason to dish out lesser penalties?

 
At 1:22 PM, September 12, 2007, Anonymous David Johnson said...

"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 Commissioner Gary Bettman.

I guess Bettman has nothing against underage drinking (Jordan Staal) and feels it fits within the boundaries of 'exemplary conduct'.

It also seems that driving recklessly and causing a car accident and killing someone is equally within the boundaries of 'exemplary conduct'.

Bouwmeester and White are both guilty of impaired driving and White was also charged with driving with a suspended license. Neither of them have yet to see a suspension.

Bell's mistake is not driving impaired, nor is it causing an accident, but rather it seems his mistake is doing both at the same time.

 
At 1:47 PM, September 12, 2007, Blogger saskhab said...

And David, how is the NHL's paramaters any different than that of society's? Look at the penalties doled out to Heatley, Staal, White, and Bouwmeester. Then look at the penalty doled out to Bell. The difference is substantial.

Also, Bell had a DUI charge previous to this one. The above mentioned people, it was their first offence.

 
At 2:46 PM, September 12, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank God I got out of the NHL!

Best wishes,
Eddie The Billion Dollar Eagle
Leksand, Sweden

 
At 2:54 PM, September 12, 2007, Blogger Chemmy said...

As a Toronto fan I was hoping he'd be suspended all year.

 
At 6:57 PM, September 12, 2007, Anonymous David Johnson said...

And David, how is the NHL's paramaters any different than that of society's? Look at the penalties doled out to Heatley, Staal, White, and Bouwmeester. Then look at the penalty doled out to Bell. The difference is substantial.

Actually, those are different societies (i.e. jurisdictions). The NHL is one society which is essentially ruled by one man who apparently suspended Bell because he did not show "exemplary conduct off the ice" as termed by Gary himself. Is Heatley's, Staal's, White's, or Boumeester's conduct within the definition of exemplary? I can only conclude yes, it is based on the lack of suspension or even a miniscule fine.

 
At 7:52 PM, September 12, 2007, Anonymous logan said...

You can't blame it all on Bettman and say that he's making up the difference in his own head. Bell is the only one of the bunch to face jail time, so apparently the law sees what he does differently too.

Personally I think the hit-and-run part is getting him in more trouble than the DUI part. Fortunately the actions of the other players (except Heatley) didn't end up hurting anyone else.

 
At 9:07 PM, September 12, 2007, Blogger Joe said...

YOU IDIOTS!

Ugh, I really hoped the NHL wouldn't do this. MLB and the NBA haven't jumped on the NFL's bandwagon in the same manner, for 2 reasons: 1) The NFL had the support of its players in making the changes that it did, so the PA was agreeing to it, 2) The NFL's punishment system has not yet (but it will eventually) go to court, where it will inevitably lose, because this system is not a part of the CBA and the standards and applications of it are not (and have not, and will not be) clearly defined, in terms of "ok, you got a DUI, a DUI = x games, a dog fighting = Y games", so on and so forth. THE NFL SYSTEM IS STILL A WORK IN PROGRESS. Its going to continue to be, until it gets beat in court, and thats going to lead to a whole shitload of repercussions. For the NHL to be totally stupid and follow the NFL's lead on this (not even considering how stupid it is to spontaneously suspend a guy when hes already served a suspension, and the incident happened a year ago) is a huge mistake. It now appears the NHL will do the NFL a favor, by allowing itself to become the guinea pig for a legal action involving these types of judgements.

Great job, Bettman. You REAAAAAALY know what you're doing, don't you? Ugh, this kind of stupidity on the part of the people running the show makes me not want to be a fan anymore.

 
At 12:07 PM, September 13, 2007, Blogger PPP said...

On another note, Bertuzzi only got 20 games for attempted murder on the ice which resulted in the end of a player's career while Bell gets 15 games for something completely unrelated to hockey.

 

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