Skip to main content Blog: Bigger issue at hand with Ramage sentence

The Hockey News

The Hockey News

News that former NHLer Rob Ramage had been sentenced to four years in prison on a drunk driving conviction has not been completely accepted by several groups of people, including the former NHL defenseman’s lawyers.

But this is a sentence that should not be appealed.

Ramage was convicted of impaired driving causing death. His passenger, former Blackhawks captain Keith Magnuson, was the victim and a woman with whom Ramage collided was also significantly injured.

Ramage’s lawyers claim the blood and urine tests that showed their client was four times over the legal alcohol limit were flawed and should not have been admitted as evidence because the urine tests were seized “without a warrant and without full and voluntary consent.” So they’re wrong, but even if they’re not wrong, they don’t count.

I’m by no means faulting Ramage’s lawyers here. Their job is to get their client off the hook.

Similarly, Keith Magnuson’s family believes Ramage should not have been given jail time, but rather sentenced to speak of the dangers of drinking and driving as community service.

Well, unfortunately that’s not the way justice works.

Ramage knew drunk driving was wrong before this incident happened – we all know drinking and driving is a horrible, selfish offense. Clearly we’re past the point of simply telling each other this fact and then retiring to the back of the room for coffee and perhaps some light pastries.

No, the reason Ramage needs to serve his sentence is because one of the tenets of our legal system is to deter both the convicted and society at large from committing these deeds again.

Some folks have even suggested Ramage, as a celebrity in Ontario (he played for the Leafs), where the trial was held, was given an unreasonably long sentence compared to others who committed the same offense. Did they ever stop to think those other sentences were way too light?

If you kill someone, that’s as serious as it gets. If anything, four years is nothing compared to the eternity the victim was given – and they’re not the ones who made the decision to get behind the wheel.

It’s courageous the Magnuson family is trying to help out their friend and heal themselves in the process, but if the judge is sending a message with Rob Ramage’s sentence, it’s the right one to send and he should serve his time.

Ryan Kennedy is a writer and copy editor for The Hockey News magazine, the co-author of the book Hockey's Young Guns and a regular contributor to His blog appears Wednesdays and his features, The Hot List and Year of the Ram, appears Tuesday and Thursday, respectively.

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