During a game on February 21, 2000, Boston Bruins defensemen Marty McSorley brutally slashed Vancouver Canuck Donald Brashear in the head. Brashear suffered a serious concussion and a few cuts and bruises. Now Marty McSorley faces charges of assault with a weapon. Three points to be discussed regarding this case are:
Should violence in hockey be treated as a crime?
The criminal system has been inconsistent in dealing with hockey violence
Should violence in hockey be taken out completely?
Should violence in sports be treated as a crime? What is part of the game and what is over the limit? Most professional sports have an organized set of rules stating what is appropriate and what is not in the way of violence. These rules set the parameters that determine what is punishable and what is not. The question is "At what point does an incident become a criminal offence?" In one case from amateur hockey, a teen was charged with aggravated battery after he hit an opposing player from behind at the end of a high school hockey game1.
This incident demonstrates that although some violence is acceptable within the rules of the game, some people think that extreme violence is a criminal offence. Most people think that all disciplinary action should occur within the league and the criminal system should not be used to punish players for actions that occur on the ice. Sportsline writer Andy James Lavender says, " Every team carries one or two players to enforce the team's physical presence on the opposition. When Jeff Odgers (Colorado Avalanche) drops his gloves and pounds the opposing center while the refs watch from the sides, happy to catch a quick breather, do we think it's acceptable behavior?" Lavender says the answer to his question is "Yes, we do".