Hans Petter Johnsen
Oct 2, 2000
The 2000-2001 season is kicking off in two days now and what can we expect to see? Last year was a season to remember but also a season to forget. Marty McSorley, Kevin Stevens and Ed Belfour brought shame to the NHL with their new perspective of "Attempt to Injure". While McSorley almost ended two careers in one swing, Stevens and Belfour showed very bad sportsmanship off the ice. Stevens was given a chance by the Flyers to make amends this summer after the Rangers gave up on him, while the Stars without any remarkable form of punishment took Belfour back. Once again, the NHL shows their support of that behavior by giving these players another chance. If McSorley slips off the noose Thursday, do not rule out the possibility that he might play in the NHL this season as well. Don't think that the NHL approves that this incident is taken to civil court. Add the fact that thanks to the almighty NHLPA, no players with contracts to a NHL team can give a drug test when he plays international games, like in the Olympics. Makes you wonder what kind of sport you're dealing with?
After reading an interview with a Swedish prospect that camped with the Maple Leafs last summer, I was given the impression that you don't get that kind of muscles as many of the Leaf's players has without swallowing your daily dose of steroids. I'm not implying that every NHL player is using drugs, but many do. And when you're playing 80+ games per year, maybe some players have to? If your contract gives you $100,000 in bonus if you top one statistic after regular season and you're #3 with #1 in reach when only seven games remains of season, but you're completely exhausted after playing every other night for five months. What do you do? The NHLPA doesn't mind. No one can find out. Besides, some of your teammates have heard that both #1 and #2 has taken something to ease the pain and add some energy. And maybe the extra energy can be extra valuable when the playoffs start? You know exactly where to place the Conn Smythe trophy and the Stanley Cup ring would sure look good on you. It can only do good, right? Besides, maybe you'll be traded to Tampa Bay in the off-season and never get an opportunity like this ever again? What would you do if you were in that position? You would never even dream about it earlier, but when you're that close to glory, what would you do? It's hopefully not like that scenario, but it could be that some players have thought like that. The horrifying part is that it could be true. No one likes a cheater, but as long as no one can find out, you're not.
Hopefully, the majority of players are aware of their responsibilities to their teammates, fans, coaches and G.M. Do what their pay to do - bring us fans to excitement. If it's a marvelous save, a one-two move that makes the blood freeze to ice in our veins, a fight, a hit, anything that makes us get up of our seats and scream. To make us forget the sad reality of our boring lives for just one second. Free us of every other aspect of life there and then. That's what this game is really about. Hopefully, the players can do so without bringing any more scandals to the sport we love.
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