Proteau’s Blog: Lacking leadership

The “My NHL” advertising campaign has gone a long ways toward reconnecting fans to elite players this season.

Too bad it’s a complete sham.

As proven by the flaccid, yawning response to Cam Janssen’s despicable hit on Tomas Kaberle, this game doesn’t belong to the fans or the superstars. Just as it always was, the NHL is the personal, private fiefdom of a select few, complete with a set of twisted, barbaric notions as to what is and isn’t acceptable in an allegedly professional sport.

A three-game suspension is all the Devils goon received for his vile attack on the talented Leafs defenseman Friday.

What a sick, sick joke that is.

Three games is the same amount Andre Roy got for abuse of officials this year and the same amount Ray Emery got for slashing Maxim Lapierre. It’s as if there’s only one number still working on chief disciplinarian Colin Campbell’s keyboard.

But Campbell can’t be singled out for blame. The problem begins with commissioner Gary Bettman and the owners, and continues with every GM like New Jersey’s Lou Lamoriello – who said, after Janssen’s suspension was announced, “I’m not upset at Cam.”

You should be upset, Lou. You should be extremely upset at Cam, as well as the NHL. Because through Janssen’s actions and the league’s lack of action, your skilled players are now at risk the next time Toronto plays New Jersey.

We’ll see how upset you are when, god forbid, Patrik Elias or Martin Brodeur gets knocked loopy by some borderline B-leaguer out for the revenge Campbell refused to exact.

The contempt the NHL continues to show for its stars speaks volumes about its true feelings toward players. No other pro sports collective shows the total disregard for its chief moneymakers as this league does. They are slabs of meat destined for the grinder.

The spirit of Alan Eagleson lives on.

The league’s higher-ups must truly believe they can throw any old player out there, toss an NHL jersey over his shoulders, and you’ll pay hundreds of dollars for the privilege of watching him. They must really think everyone is a Leaf fan.

The case is often made that the problem with the NHL is a lack of respect amongst the players. I think the bigger problem is too much respect – too much for fringe talents such as Janssen’s. Too much for the Don Cherry philosophy – the one that stunk up the airwaves again Saturday night – that says the only answer to what Janssen did was more violence.

Listening to such garbage, you understand how arms races and blood feuds proliferate.

Until Bettman – and, to a slightly lesser degree, Ted Saskin – show some honest-to-goodness leadership in this area, the NHL will continue to cannibalize itself, all in the name of the so-called toughness some believe defines the sport.

All I know is, what Cam Janssen did Friday night wasn’t tough. Neither was what Colin Campbell and the league “did” Saturday. And when Janssen returns to the bench in a few games, well before Kaberle does, you’ll know all you need to about what is really valued in this business.

My NHL? My ass.

I applaud the Hockey News’ on its putting in our faces the terrible effect goons and fighting has on our beloved sport!
– al horcher

Come on Adam you cant seriously be comparing this hit to Andre Roy’s incident or the incident involving Ray Emery. All Cam Jansen did was finish his hit and sure it was a start player but does that mean that the star players are not aloud to be checked? I dont think so
– Cole Mclean

Settle down! It was a late hit, and a cheap shot. Go ahead and argue how long the suspension should be, but the way you’re carrying on…sick joke…Alan Eagleson…garbage…is a bit over the top wouldn’t you say? What do YOU think the punishment should be? 5 games, 10? Do you really think a longer suspension would make a bit of difference in the way Janssen, or anyone else plays? Maybe you think he should be banned for life…so you have something else to whine about when a similar offense by a star player results in a slap on the wrist.
– Steve

Nice try Adam, but we all know if that hit happened to any almost any other player on any other team you and the Hockey News would almost completely ignore it. It was a little late, Kaberle stopped paying attention and he fell very awkwerdly. Did Janssen deserve suspension and fine? Yes, and he got it. Did Janssen attack Kaberle with an intent to injure? Absolutly not. He is an energy guy, who made a mistake and judging by his character and his words after the game and suspension, he has accepted his punishment as just. Did Cam Janssen make a mistake? No doubt. Did he deserve the strong words you used in your blog? Not at all, and you should be ashamed of what you have written, you are a professional too, you realise.
– Dave

I have been a Devils fan for a long time and I don’t think we need players like Cam in the league. He is out of control and does not contribute anything to the team. Get rid of him.
– Leslie

Proteau, you nailed it!! I cannot understand the NHL’s assanine and inconsistent suspensions and fines. The league is sending a clear message to teams and fans. Mutilate your opponent and recieve a slap on the wrist. Kaberle is one of the best D in the league, and a crucial piece of the Maple Leaf team – they’ve lost a great player. The Devils lose a mediocre 3-minutes-a-night hocky player for three games…ooh, the Devils “got the message,” I’m sure they’ll never do that again (Jagr better keep his head up). If you slap a NFL quarterback in the head on an attempted tackle, you can expect an immediate 15-yard penalty, if you hit him hard enough, you can expect a big fine and/or suspension. Every hit to the head that results in injury, accidental or not, should be reviewed by the NHL and be given an appropriate suspension. Janssen’s three games suspension and Neil’s no- consequence cheap shot on Sabres’ lead goal-scorer Drury are both jokes, try a 30 game suspension with a $75,000 fine to the player and the team — each — and I guarentee players will respond.
– Chris Weber

You forgot to mention a few things, if the hit was in open ice like Chris Neil’s was Cam might not have even gotten suspended. Blame the refs for not seeing the hit in the first place. Cam is no goon, he made one questionable hit and you are jumping down his throat? If anything its bad karma left over from years of Tie Domi cheap shots. The NHL needs stuff like this to keep it entertaining and give it some press. Otherwise you wouldn’t hear a peep from the NHL in any major newspapers in the U.S. or espn. It will continue to be a generic watered down sport if this rough crazy stuff doesn’t go on. The NHL’s only reputation in the large US market is that its a physical hard hitting sport. That’s what made it as popular as it was in the mid 90’s when Fox aired games and thats what made it popular in the 70’s. So stop whining, yo u’re worse for the game then any cheap shot ever will be.
– Michael Morgese

The most pathetic thing about this whole ordeal is that is say Wade Belak (first name on my mind) were to injury Patrick Elias or Marty Broduer in retaliation, he will probably get a 20 game (maybe more suspension) because the league has always been and will always be in the pocket of Lamerillo, the man with the best interest of the league farthest from his blacken heart.
– Eric Chernin

Adam, How do I write to Mr. Bettman personally to tell him how strongly I am in agreement with your argument in your recent article, “LACKING LEADERSHIP” ? I wont tell you who my allegiences are to in the NHL but I wouldnt care if it was a plug from the Coyotes hitting a star player in Edmonton, or vice versa, the NHL’s stance on violent behaviour is in serious need of change. Maybe you guys in the media can petition for this change and appeal directly to the higher authority. Anyways, I’d personally like to drop Mr. Bettman, or Mr. Campbell for that matter, a line to tell them how I really feel. Thanks
– Cam C

I’m unsure if I am fortunate or unfortunate to have missed the hit on TV. That’s what happens when one lives in Chicago. While not a hockey player, I have seen hundreds (and probably thousands) of games and am often disappointed with the supposed supplemental dscipline handed down. I concur with Adam on this issue while my point of reference is the Chris Neil/Chris Drury hit. Adam I’d like to read your thoughts on the Chris Drury/Chris Neil as it relates to supplemental disciplince.
– JR Remke

Vile??Vicious??No penalty was called…I can’t help but wonder where Mr.Proteau has been before this? Did he decry the late hit on Chris Drury this loud?I don’t even see it mentioned in this Blog at all. Or, How about the DELIBERATE Knee to Knee Darcy Tucker put on then Islander Mike Peca in the playoffs? Seems to me that any time a Maple Laff, excuse me, Maple Leaf gets hit, late or otherwise, and is injured,it’s the “end of decent hockey as we know it” , while if a Leaf commits the act, it’s just “Hockey like it’s supposed to be played”. At least Cam Janssen received a suspension, Chris Neil got off scott free is still playing. Someone should remind Tomas Kaberle to keep his head up and not linger to admire his passes in the future
– Craig Gorman

Hello Adam, Good Afternoon from Pasadena, and you’re right on with regards to actions perpetrated by these so called tough guys. Kaberle, from what I can gather is one of the Leafs skilled players and I am sure he would be asset to their playoff push. I am unsure what the Leafs could do in retaliation because that sort of thing would piss me off and I would want blood. I really hope that the Devils and Leafs meet in the first round. It’s not like the Kings are making the playoffs…I just wish we could cut Blake. Regards,
– Sanjay Moorthy

Does DAVE agree with Adam Proteau’s assessment of this situation? Most certainly not. Does DAVE feel that he did, however, make some salient points? Undoubtedly. The most important question: does DAVE need to stop posing questions and answering them? Please. My opinion: was this piece right on the money? You betcha!
– Mike

Adam, If you don’t like the rough stuff, go watch a soccer game.
– Ken Henrikson

What is this, “Crap on Jersey” month at THN?! First your ridiculous article declaring the Devils as the reason why no one watches the NHL and now your WAY over the top comments about the Janssen hit. I WAS AT THE GAME and I thought it was a late hit. And it should have been called interference. BUT I have seen that exact hit laid hundreds of times with nobody ending up hurt. Kaberle got caught off guard and ended up with a concussion. The real point you guys are missing is that every single “New NHL” rule the officials called last season have completely disappeared this season. The Referees blew that call and thats the bottom line. One commenter made a good point, I remember a particularly important game involving the Devs and Laffs where a certain GOON named Tie Domi gave an extremely cheap shot to Scott Niedermeyer. That was a different game and a different time but I would say that that hit was 10 times more vile than the late finishing check by Janssen. And I rememebr that being IN a playoff game! Guess what happened, Dumi got suspended, shed a few fake tears, and now its ancient history! You know whats the most Ironic about this controversial hit? If they air this game nationally MORE people will tune in now because NOW the Devs and Laffs matchup has some actual rivalry to it!
– Mike

I can understand hockey fans being upset by the latest high profile head shot, but I can’t see why anyone would be surprised. Toronto is the the epicenter of the goon mentality that allows for this nonsense. Until the dinosaurs with sway wake up and penalize all head shots these injuries will continue to be common, and hockey will remain a bush league sport. Kaberle didn’t deserve that, but Toronto did.
– Joe Colleran

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Seriously Adam.. Stop whining! It was a late hit, a hit that occurs in every game! Cam’s job is to go out and be physical. One of the GREAT aspects of hockey is its ability to police itself! Or we can just ban hitting, good idea!
– Ryan

Though I realize that Toronto is the sun in which the Hockey News revolves around, but the last time I checked, this is a physical sport, and everyone needs to keep their eys open with the notion that they can be checked by an opposing player on the ice. Was Cam Janssen’s hit hard? Yes. Did the hit look worse because Kaberle crumbled into the wall? Absolutely. Was Janssen playing all out, like he always does, knowing his role as someone who creates energy and tries to get his teammates going? Of course. Maybe if Toronto had more guys who played with passion like Janssen, they might not be on the outside looking in on the playoff race. Just look at Drury’s hit and let me know what was worse. If Janssen’s hit was at center ice, it would be a solid check, and if someone on Toronto hit someone on the Devils liek that, I am SURE that ther e wouldnt be this much of an outcry from pro-Toronto media.
– Joe G.

I agree with you Adam. My biggest concern is the accountability of the officials. Will they get suspended or fined? I’ve seen too many games in the last month where questionable calls were made on minor offenses, yet the refs become visually impaired on dirty/late hits.
– Cookie Gross

Holy overreaction, Batman! If this happened to a player on a team not named Toronto Maple Leafs, there would not be nearly the uproar. The Leafs and their fans have had a separate set of rules and justice from the rest of the league for far too long. Frankly I don’t think any suspension was warranted. Kaberle failed to keep his head up, and was injured because of a freakishly awkward landing. Basic rule of hockey, keep head up at all times. Hopefully Kaberle will not suffer any long-term effects. I guarantee he will not make that mistake again.
– Don

Finishing a check? are you guys serious? Tomas didnt keep his head up? you guys are nuckin futs u know that. Kaberle isnt a big hitter, no one has been seriously hurt by any of his attempted ‘checks’. so why did cam go after his head? thats what he did. he hit his head. plain and simple. thats why A.P. is freakin out. Thats why we should all be disgusted. Because the next could be Crosby, Stall, Jagr, Elias, Smyth, Iginla…..ths list goes on. Kaberle is an All-Star, sure he isnt on some no-hit list, but thats garbage how some no-name can hit an All-Star in the head and pfft campbell says “you get the week off, enjoy” and the neil hit? different for two reasons neil is taller then drury neil hit him within a half second kaberle is taller then janssen, i counted to 2 and kaberle got hit there arent enough swear words in the language to express this rage
– Martin

You’re absolutely right about the league’s higher-ups doing less than they should to protect players. The hypocrisy is infuriating. For example, I think Alex Ovechkin should have been suspended for at least 5 games for his hit on Briere, because he blatantly and willingly hit him from behind into the boards, a move that has killed kids in minor hockey. Yet they did nothing because they didn’t want to take him out of action before Washington’s next game against Crosby’s Penguins. Maybe it’s stunts like letting things like that go that keep potential fans away. Anyway, I don’t think its players like Cam Janssen that are bad for the game, its just that sometimes players commit acts like his against Kaberle that are bad for the game. I think the punishment should have been more severe, but it isn’t Cam Janssen that’s a bad thing, its the fact that Cam Janssen did that. Marty McSorley was pretty well respected before the Brashear incident (wasn’t he?), so it wasn’t that Marty McSorley was bad for the game throughout his career and that his type of player was useless, its certain actions that players commit that are bad for the game, regardless of the offensive talent they have. Todd Bertuzzi isn’t as “talentless” as Cam Janssen is, but he still ended Steve Moore’s career, and regardless of how long Moore’s career in the NHL would have been, I think the length of Bertuzzi’s suspension should have been longer, based on how severe the consequences were for Moore.
– Matthew Jansens

I just saw this post and have to say I dont recall so much fuss made about the Neil/Drury hit or the Ovechkin/Briere hit. The league can not just pick and choose what hits and by whom should merit suspensions. Any late hit or hit to the head should warrant an action by the league. This will hopefully send a message to the players who inflict these cheap shots on star players.
– Khall

Dear Adam, Let get to bussiness you called Cam Janssen A goon because he was finishing is check, a check that was one second late, you call him cowardly and vicious, you attack Lou Lamorillo for standing up for this player, I applude Mr. Lamoriello fr standing up for Cam, because Cam is no goon and you should be ashamed of your self for calling him one. you are hopping on the band wagon with the rest of the NHL commentators who don’t do their home work. you want yto get rid of goon okay here is a list lets start here: Todd Bertuzzi, Darcy Tucker, Chris Neil, Donald Brashear, Ben Eager, Alexander Ovechkin etc. In fture do your home work before insulting and attack players.
– Renissa

Cam Janssen hits everyone late because he’s too slow to hit someone within 3 seconds of them releasing the puck. He only recently stopped leaving his feet while going for people’s heads. To compare him to the real enforcers of yesteryear is an insult to Stu Grimson, Bob Probert, Chris Simon, Sandy McCarthy and the rest that did a good job of policing the game. They had respect for their opponents and played with honor (for the most part). Janssen is an extension of the Matt Johnsons who bring nothing to the game except the ability to end someone else’s career.
– Joe Willix

Want to really punish the Devils? Take Kaberle’s average ice time this season (22 minutes per game or so) and make the Devils play Cam Janssen that many minutes MINIMUM each and every game until Kaberle returns to the Toronto line-up!
– Patrick Kerr

Adam: Well written, and I agree with you 100%. Colin Campbell is a complete idiot who has to go, in my opinion. I’ll never forget a few years back in a Buffalo – Philly series, Vaclav Verada was cheap shotted by John LeClair that clearly was a suspendable offense, and Campbell’s public response was “The rules are different in the playoffs”. How someone of such little mind can STILL be in such a powerful position, is incredible – incredibly stupid.
– Mark D

The only reason this is getting any press is because it was a Leaf!! The Leafs should have dealt with it on their own instead of whining.
– jay rush

I am sick of you supposed hockey experts. Truth is, the hit that Jannsen put on Kaberle was 1.3 seconds after Kaberle had released the puck, and Janssen stopped moving his feet AND Kaberle is fine and playing again. Not so much with Drury and no one complained about it. He only got hit FROM BEHIND to THE HEAD with Neil STILL SKATING FULL SPEED THROUGH THE CHECK. Or wait, how about a couple years ago when the biggest (explative deleted) to ever lace up skates, Darcy Tucker, of our beloved Leafs elbowed a real superstar defenseman in the face with the puck nowhere near either of them. Did i see outcry then? NO ONE in Toronto can complain about goons or terrible non calls with the days of Tie Domi still in memory and Darcy Tucker still a member of the team.
– jonathan

In reference to the C. Janssen/T. Kaberle issue, yes there are “GOONS” in the NHL and probably always will be. The real question should be was this a legal hit, a late hit, a dirty hit, or maybe it falls into an catagory. was the hit “NECESSARY”? I think that there have been many times over the years when players have received damaging hits, that have and have not been called. My question has always has been was the hit necessary? The responsibility for these “questionable hits” have to rest with the players, but they have to be addressed by the NHL and Referee’s/Linesmen. AS long as teams have players that get under 4-5 minutes a game, and insist that these players bring something of “VALUE” to the team then these situations will continue. All you have to do is watch any NHL game, and you will see “PHANTOM CALLS BEING MADE”, and then hits to the heads of players that aren’t being called. Many hockey writers/game announcers have said that the Referee’s have a tuff job, and they are right. But in my opinion the “officiating” in the NHL has been nothing but a “very sad joke/shame” since the lockout. We the fans never hear about the officials being held accountable by the league, are they penalized/fined/suspended? WHAT! Many times we see the “Officials refusing to be addressed by either captains/alternate captains or even the coaches, what’s with that? Are they above being questioned? Are these games reviewed by the NHL higher-ups, and if so what are the results? Send a message to the “GOONS/Non-thinkers” of the league, if you give a late/questionable hit and injure a player, then you will be suspended by the league without pay for the same amount of time that the injured player is out. Guess what T. Bertuzzi would still be out of work! What to stop it, then the league has to get serious.
– Fred B.

I agree with you completely, Adam. The suspension was way too short. But I don’t think that a really long suspension would get to the heart of the matter, either, because losing this guy for a month wouldn’t hurt the Devils one bit. Somehow, the team should be penalized, too.
– Bill Hall

Get real – just because it’s the Maple Leafs player that got hurt, you are upset. I have to toil down here in Dallas with other people who don’t even know about hockey. You think if Sergei Zubov got hit late by Janssen you would care that much?
– Luke

Everyone seem to be miissing the point. It’s not the timimg of the hit on Kaberle or Drury. It’s the obvious fact that the head was the point of impact. One would have to be blind not to notice that. Especially in Drurys case. No I don’t go for TO, Jersey/ Ottawa or Buffalo. Everyone likes a good clean hard hit, But Not when the head is the target. Just curious Renissa…How do you classify Ovechkin as a goon?!!

I think everyone loves a good fight, and hitting should always be a part of hockey…..but talentless hacks like Janssen don’t need to be in the NHL. With all the new rules in the NHL, a major change should have been the number of players on a team. Teams should only be allowed to dress 15 skaters and 2 goalies. I know there are plenty of teams out there with 4th line players who wouldn’t be impact players in the ECHL, and it’s time the NHL got rid of these worthless players who just take ice time away from the stars.
– Rob Lewis