Popping Off flashback (commentary): the Marty McSorley assault case

The following piece appeared as the Arizona Daily Star’s Popping Off commentary on Oct. 8, 2000.

Popping Off: Let pro sports leagues discipline their own

By Ed Odeven

After months of speculation, debate and heated controversy, a Vancouver, British Columbia, court declared Friday that veteran hockey bruiser Marty McSorley is guilty of assault with a deadly weapon, and he will be on probation for the next 18 months.

For those who don’t recall the Feb. 21 incident, McSorley, then a Boston Bruins defenseman, swung his stick and struck Vancouver Canucks forward Donald Brashear on the back of the head with three seconds remaining in the game. Brashear suffered a concussion but has since returned to play.

McSorley missed the final 23 games of the season while serving a suspension and hasn’t been given the OK to return yet by the league.

The lengthy suspension should’ve been an appropriate suspension.

It wasn’t the first time an NHL player was viciously attacked during a game.

Will it be the last time?

Heck, no.

In the fast-paced sport of hockey, tempers flare as quickly as slap shots ricochet off a goaltender’s stick.

The Vancouver court’s ruling sends the proper message: violent, blatant attacks should not be tolerated in a sporting event.

However, that message should be sent by the NHL, not by a public court.

Surely, there are more pressing societal concerns that need a court’s attention than a hockey game. Let pro sports leagues police themselves, but they must do so strictly and consistently.

It’ll be interesting to see what type of precedent this ruling sets.

How many more athletic encounters will trigger a trial?

For instance, will the next beanball brawl in baseball result in 27 arrests for assault?

We shall see.

But hopefully, we won’t see more of the pathetic public display of affection after Friday’s trial: Marty McSorley signing autographs for kids outside of the Vancouver court.

But then again, isn’t that just a sign of how wacky people’s priorities are these days?

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