Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Bill Daly Interview: The Lockout, NFL Concussion Lawsuits, Homosexuality, Olympics, World Cup, Social Media & Personal Questions

Recently I had the opportunity to interview Deputy Commissioner and Chief Legal Officer of the NHL Bill Daly. 

We discussed a lot of the key issues facing the league, including the lockout, NFL concussion lawsuits, homosexuality, Olympics, World Cup and social media. He also answered some personal questions.

I've gone ahead and transcribed the interview and it can be found at CBSSports.com. 

CTV National News: Derek Boogaard Lawsuit Against The NHL

I joined CTV National News and broke down the key elements of the Boogaard lawsuit against the NHL.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Radio Clip: We Discuss Boogaard Lawsuit

I joined Steve Lloyd and Jason York on the Team 1200 to discuss the Boogaard lawsuit.

Click here to listen for a breakdown and what this lawsuit means.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Audio - My Interview with Bill Daly

Bill Daly joined me on my radio show Offside for a lengthy and in-depth interview. 

We covered the lockout, homosexuality in sports, Olympic participation, a possible World Cup revival, the impact of the NFL Concussion lawsuits on the game of hockey, social media and his Canadian roots.

That's right - Canadian roots. He also used to vacation in the Maritimes.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Gryba: To Suspend or Not to Suspend - NHL CBA, Rules & The Hit

Ottawa Senators forward Eric Gryba hit Montreal Canadiens forward Lars Eller during second period action in Game 1 Thursday night in Montreal. Eller was knocked unconscious before he hit the ice. With his arms limb and unable to brace for impact, Eller’s face collided with the ice (sadly reminiscent of Kevin Stevens).

The result for Eller was a pool of blood gathering on the ice around his head, a broken nose, broken teeth and a concussion. Eller was taken off the ice on a stretcher and Gryba was given a major penalty for the hit and a game misconduct.

The Canadiens have lost one of their top players. For Canadiens fans it’s a shame, as Eller has emerged this season as a strong two-way player.

Gryba now faces a discipline hearing with the league to determine whether he will be suspended.

So now we are faced with the inevitable question: to suspend or not to suspend?

Well we need to look at the rules, the NHL CBA and of course the hit.

So first the rules. We’ve all heard about Rule 48 or the primary contact to the head rule. Here it is: 
48.1 Illegal Check to the Head – A hit resulting in contact with an opponent's head where the head is targeted and the principal point of contact is not permitted. However, in determining whether such a hit should have been permitted, the circumstances of the hit, including whether the opponent put himself in a vulnerable position immediately prior to or simultaneously with the hit or the head contact on an otherwise legal body check was avoidable, can be considered.
Another important consideration is the NHL CBA. It sets out the factors relied upon when determining whether to impose supplemental discipline. Here's the language from the CBA:
In deciding on supplementary discipline, the following factors will be taken into account as per paragraph 6 of Schedule 8 (this is the old CBA but it shouldn’t change):
(a) The type of conduct involved: conduct outside of NHL rules; excessive force in contact otherwise permitted by NHL rules; and careless or accidental conduct. Players are responsible for the consequences of their actions.
(b) Injury to the opposing Player(s) involved in the incident.
(c) The status of the offender, and specifically whether he is a "first" or "repeat" offender. Players who repeatedly violate NHL rules will be more severely punished for each new violation.
(d) The situation of the game in which the incident occurred: late in the game,lopsided score, prior events in the game.
(e) Such other factors as may be appropriate in the circumstances.
Of there factors, Paragraph 6(a) is key. It provides for discipline in cases of illegal hits or legal hits delivered with excessive force.

Now on to the hit. I've slowed the video down and captured these images, which are helpful in analyzing what happened:

From these images, Gryba does not make primary contact with the head. His hips and torso drive into Eller. The elbow is not up, nor is the shoulder delivered to the head. Contact is made with Eller’s body initially and that contact is away from the head.

So how is Eller rendered unconscious before he hits the ice? As a result of the initial impact, Eller’s head hits Gryba in the back of the shoulder knocking him out.

These images are quite helpful in getting a better idea of the manner in which the hit was delivered and received.

So without that primary contact to the head, the application of Rule 48 is off the table.

However, what about Paragraph 6(a) of the CBA, which provides for discipline in cases of hits that fall within the rules but are delivered with “excessive force”.

While the result of the hit was disheartening, the hit itself did not seem one that could be fairly characterized as “excessive”. Gryba lined up Eller (who had his head down), and a strong impactful hit was delivered. This was not a case of Gryba going after a defenseless Eller. It was, unfortunately for Eller and the Canadiens, a hit that not only falls within the rules but was also not excessive. 

Problem is the laws of physics conspired to produce the result we saw. 

It’s close but there is insufficient evidence to conclude that the hit was worthy of a suspension.

It was a legal hit with a terrible result. Still legal, though.

By the way, I’m a Habs fan.