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Sports Hickey on hockey: Caps' Tom-foolery touches off two days of craziness

03:20  08 may  2021
03:20  08 may  2021 Source:   montrealgazette.com

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I’m not going to be so foolish as to suggest that NHL disciplinarian George Parros was derelict in his duties when he failed to suspend Washington Capitals forward Tom Wilson because I can’t afford to have Gary Bettman knocking on my door looking for $250,000.

a group of baseball players that are standing in the snow: Tom Wilson, left, of the Washington Capitals battles Artemi Panarin of the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden in New York on May 3, 2021. © Provided by The Gazette Tom Wilson, left, of the Washington Capitals battles Artemi Panarin of the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden in New York on May 3, 2021.

But I have to say that some of Parros’ rulings this week made me wonder if the former NHL goon, er enforcer, with the Ivy League education is suffering the effects of the concussions that ended his career.

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Parros’ official title is vice-president of player safety and you would hope that he would be more concerned about the safety of Rangers’ Artemi Panarin, who suffered a season-ending injury Monday when Wilson grabbed him by the hair and threw him to the ice. Panarin suffered a lower-body injury, but it could have been worse because replays show Panarin’s head hitting the ice.

The incident cried out for a suspension, particularly since Wilson is a career miscreant who has been suspended five times for a total of 35 games. Parros responded by fining Wilson US$5,000, the maximum allowed under the collective agreement and the fine wasn’t for his damage done to Panarin , but rather for a punch thrown moments earlier at a defenceless Pavel Buchnevich. This is the definition of a slap on the wrist for Wilson, who has a cap hit of US$5.166 million and can write off the $5,000 as a business expense on his taxes.

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The Parros decision touched off two days of craziness.

The Rangers not only questioned the decision but they also called for Parros’ removal. The statement wasn’t attributed to anyone, but it had all the hallmarks of a rant from billionaire James Dolan, who makes his money by mismanaging the Rangers and the NBA’s Knicks and gouging cable subscribers to the MSG network. While Bettman was fining the Rangers US$250,00 for the “personal nature” of the attack on Parros, Dolan fired team president John Davidson and general manager Jeff Gorton in a move that was unrelated to the Tom-foolery on the ice.

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There was some residual nastiness when the Rangers and the Capitals met in a rematch Wednesday. There were three fights off the opening faceoff and six fights before the game was five minutes old. The main event came at the 50-second mark when Wilson stepped on the ice and was immediately challenged by Brendan Smith.

There was some additional ugliness in the second period when Buchnevich was ejected for cross-checking Anthony Mantha. This time around, Parros got it right and suspended Buchnevich for one game.

Poll spotlights youth hockey problems: A poll by the non-profit Angus Reid Institute poll suggests there are serious problems with hockey at the grassroots level.

The poll reveals that 56 per cent of respondents who have played or coached youth hockey perceive the treatment of women and girls by young male hockey players as misogynistic or disrespectful. This sentiment increases to 63 per cent among those who did not play but identify as having spent time around the game cheering on a close friend, family member or partner.

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Th results followed the news that Canucks forward Jake Virtanen was placed on leave amid allegations of sexual misconduct.

Efforts by the NHL and grassroots organizations to encourage diversity and promote the role of black and Indigenous athletes in the are seen as necessary by Canadians, half of whom say hockey has a problem with racism. The percentage saying there is a racism problem within the hockey community rises to 58 per cent among those who identify as a visible minority or have a close association to the game.

While the NHL has promoted Hockey is for Everyone, 88 per cent of Canadians say that organized hockey is too expensive for lower-income people to play and that might be the biggest obstacle to providing more opportunities for minorities. While there have been notable exceptions such as Donald Brashear, Trevor Daley and brothers Chris and Anthony Stewart, the majority of black players in the NHL come from middle-class backgrounds.

Grazys got around: Condolences go to the family of Al Grazys, who died this week at age 82. Grazys had a long association with university sports in Quebec and served as the hockey coach at Loyola College, Bishop’s University and McGill. As an athlete, Grazys played on championship hockey and basketball teams at Loyola.

phickey@postmedia.com

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NHL's COVID protocol-related absences for May 14, 2021 .
Players in the COVID protocol are: St. Louis' Jake Walman and Nathan Walker, and Washington's Evgeny Kuznetsov and Ilya Samsonov.St.

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