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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Stompin' Chris Pronger Teaches a Valuable Life Lesson.

I intend on revisiting this with my Weekly Wed. All-NHL podcast tomorrow, so I will be terse here. This has been a real hot button issue and I wanted to give a few readers a fresh perspective on how this relates to life.

Sport, like society, judges every amoral or criminal wrong-doing not solely based on the offense itself, but with marked consideration to the multitude of situational variables. Of these factors is the status of the person facing judgment.

In this case Pronger was protected by the cache he carries around the league, his current GM (who used to do the job Colin Campbell does now), the time of the year, and his otherwise good behaviour this season. Simon had none of these factors on his side, nor was he far enough removed from the vicious face-slashing of Ryan Hollweg.

Additionally, the stomps were very different. Simons was more malicious and clearly and attempt to injure. Pronger stomped on an area that is formidably protected much unlike the ankle region where Ruutu was struck. Pronger also looked to lower more of a swift blow, almost a kick with the blade flush, however his weight was clearly distributed on his non-stomping foot effectively reducing the force and thus intent to harm. By contrast, Simon applied the full force of his weight onto Ruutus' poorly protected ankle joint and proceeded to grind the sharpened blade as deep as possible. Evidence:

Add it all up and he probably should have gotten 15 games. Mitigating factors listed above combined with other intangibles resulted in a favourable ruling for Pronger and the Ducks. It didn't live up to the precedent because it didn't have too -- the circumstances were very different and I am not at all surprised at how the chips fell in this scenario, nor should you be.

This situation is only understood outside the context of the Utopian concept of fairness. The elusive concept of equality that plagues every facet of life. The non-existent level playing field which persistently harms the judgment of those who incorrectly support its existence.

Of course stars are protected in the NHL, just as they are outside of sport and throughout culture. NHL stars get more lenient judgments the same way Hollywood celebrities rarely get convicted. Star power turns 20-to-life into a mistrial or community service, or 30 games into 8. One can make the case for the lack of fairness in the outcome here, but much like life: sport is far from fair. File this alongside the dense catalog of similar anecdotes and stop whining.

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