Unwritten rules in sports have their place, more importantly, HAD their place. Sure, some of the unspeakable yet respected rules govern sports in a way written rules can never do. Most of these rules deal with punitive retaliation for a wrong doing, for example; hitting a batter after one of your players was hit, a sign that “you have his back”. But within these archaic hidden rules are even more hidden rules, a society of secrets, things that those that never played the game “will not understand.” To a point I happen to agree with the spirit of each of these ‘secret codes’, but at times every player and observer must understand that those sacred rules SHOULD be broken.
Kevin Paul Dupont of the Boston Globe reported on such ‘Code Breakers’ in hockey, revolving around the recently shut down Marc Savard. The two players in his article have chosen to speak out… AGAINST THEIR OWN… Gasp! [/sarcasm] While this is occurring the ‘old school’ is up in arms about such heinous actions;
Ference’s words touched off far more fireworks than the damage Paille inflicted on Sawada. Commentators Mike Milbury and Don Cherry, both former Boston coaches turned talkmasters, interpreted Ference’s words as a crime against hockey. They focused not on the words per se (every one of them true and right on point), but instead that Ference, as a member of the Black and Gold, broke the “code’’ by indicting one of his own.
“Unacceptable!’’ shouted Milbury from his bully pulpit.
“I don’t care if your teammate is an axe murderer,’’ bellowed Cherry, proclaiming the eternal need to abide by the game’s honor and keep such comments “in the dressing room.’’
All Andrew Ference said was that the hit that his teammate was punished for was unacceptable, in part due to Rule No. 48, an OBVIOUS observation and the TRUTH. He was not the first to do such a thing, as recently Billy Guerin (last season) had the same things to say about his teammate at the time who’s hit started the issues with Marc Savard;
Guerin, you might remember, also broke the alleged code last March in the wake of Cooke’s hit on Savard. Just like Ference here in Boston, Guerin then was Cooke’s teammate in Pittsburgh, and he made clear that such hits cannot be condoned.
So what is the big deal… There shouldn’t be, it is the honest truth and something more players should be doing. In a recent interview I did with a Vancouver Canucks reporter he asked who should be responsible for this issue, and simply I stated everyone should be from the league all the way to the equipment manufacturers. However the players themselves should be at or near the top in the responsibility chain (I ranked them second behind the league). If the players take a more willful approach to the concussion/head trauma issue perhaps the unwritten rules can be rewritten to include safety of the players and speak out.
Tomorrow will have the updated NHL Concussion Report… Big spike of reported concussions…
Thank You once again to @ewheeler1976 for the lead