Friday, March 14, 2008

The Pronger Stomp

When Chris Simon received a 30 game suspension for stomping of Jarkko Ruutu's ankle it appeared clear that the NHL considered intentionally stomping on another player a serious offence. Sure there were mitigating circumstances; in that Simon was a repeat offender, but it seemed obvious that any player caught stomping on another would have a lengthy suspension. Naturally, when Chris Pronger of the Anaheim Ducks stomped on the calf of Ryan Kesler of the Vancouver Canucks in a game Wednesday that Anaheim won 4-1, it should have been clear that Pronger would have a lengthy suspension. Pronger is a repeat offender who had not one but two suspensions within the past year. There may be differences in the stomp and it was not clear Pronger would get 30 games, but he would get a lengthy suspension.

It turns out this isn't true. There is a significant difference between Chris Simon and Chris Pronger. Simon is a role player who is nearing the end of his NHL career. Pronger is a former MVP, who is one of the NHL's better players. He is a star on the defending Stanley Cup champion Anaheim Ducks and could make a huge difference down the stretch and in the playoffs. Therefore, Pronger did not get suspended at all. Is that what passes for justice in the NHL?

As an aside, the Carolina paper the News & Observer published a study that players tend to receive longer suspensions when the player who is hurt is on a Canadian team, presumably due to the higher level of hockey news coverage in Canada. That clearly does not apply in this case. Kesler is on a Canadian team (Vancouver), but Pronger received no suspension. There are many biases in the uneven justice system in the NHL. The News & Observer may have uncovered one of them, but there is a much bigger bias on top of up. Star players get minimal (or no) suspensions when role players would get lengthier ones. It isn't good for business to star players missing any more games that necessary.

Here is the TSN story on the incident.

NOTE: It appears that after the second video of Pronger's stomp came out, which can be seen here (thanks to Mojo Tooth for the link) the NHL is looking at the case again (or bowing to the court of public opinion) and it looks as though Pronger will likely be suspended afterall. Ironically, this video, which probably led to Pronger's upcoming suspension, was provided as evidence of his innocence my Mojo Tooth in the comment section of this thread. Here is the TSN story on the state of affairs as of Friday night.

NOTE: The suspension was announced Saturday afternoon. Pronger is suspended for eight games. He can come back for the Anaheim Ducks final game of the season April 6th against the Phoenix Coyotes. I think this is a fair suspension, but shows that Chris Simon's suspension was unfairly long. Here is TSN's story on the revised ruling.

You start with the foregone conclusion that Pronger was actually trying to stomp on Kesler. I challenge that conclusion.

Youtube link

Pronger wasn't suspended because it wasn't obvious he was really attempting to stomp on Kesler. Kesler was applying a leglock to try to tie up Pronger and Pronger was kicking his leg trying to break free of it.

Even if you take a fairly harsh view of things and maintain that Pronger should have been more careful with the razor blades on the end of his feet, this is hardly comparable to the Simon/Ruutuu incident.

So taken in that light, it seems that media bias is certainly showing its ugly head here. Way too much is being made of this incident.
Watching that video it seems pretty obvious Pronger *did* stomp on Ryan Kesler.

I expected to see that you had a link to the first video that is less conclusive, but this one is pretty obvious. Chris Pronger stomped on Ryan Kesler. What more do you need?

This comes down to a fallacy that if we cant finmd video evidence (on youtube) it must not have happened. The NHL has been suspending players for years before video evidence existed for all their games. Many games were not televised at all in the not too distant past and yet they still managed to suspend players without any video evidence at all. And in this case there is video evidence and its pretty conclusive yet some people still want to argue against it?
I don't dispute that Pronger stepped on Kesler's leg. However I don't conclude from that video that Pronger obviously intended to tromp Kesler. Which makes it completely different from the Chris Simon case, which is where I disagree with your original point that "superstar bias" played a role in his lack of supplemental discipline.

Should Pronger have received a penalty for it? Well, if the referee at the time of the incident had called a match penalty, I don't think I could argue with that, because it happened awful fast.

But with the benefit of a slow-mo replay, I come to a completely different conclusion than you. And I'm not the only one. And Colin Campbell is in the same camp as myself. He decided no supplemental discipline was warranted. And I'm not laboring under the illusion that Campbell is a genius either.

I don't think it's ridiculous for you to come to the conclusion that you did, I just disagree. Acting flabbergasted when someone challenges the basis for your argument certainly does nothing to strengthen it, and trying to cast my opinion as completely unreasonable doesn't help either.

My point again: this is nothing like Simon's stomp.
Do Pronger really actually trying to stomp on Kesler?

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