Friday, August 26, 2005

Apples & oranges

Babble on.

Colby Cosh is smarter than this:

...for all you hockey lovers out there who have been calling for Todd Bertuzzi to be thrown out of the league forever and put in prison. Is it a particular problem for you that the Ottawa Senators just gave $13 million to a guy who killed a teammate and got zero jail time for it?

Personally, I think both Dany Heatley and Todd Bertuzzi got off lightly - although with a civil suit pending in Bertuzzi's case, we'll have to wait to see just what all his punishment adds up to in the end. Unfortunately, I don't think Cosh thought this one through. Because it's pretty obvious why reactions to the two situations have been so very different.

The first reason is intent. Heatley didn't mean to kill Snyder. Bertuzzi meant to hurt Moore. Like it or not, people will forgive unintentional mistakes more quickly than they will intentional ones.

The second reason is where the incidents occurred. People called for Bertuzzi to be banned from hockey because what he did was in hockey-space, on the ice. Heatley's transgression was away from the game and unrelated to it, and game punishments are therefore inappropriate.

For me, the real question is why neither of these guys are in jail, while this poor idiot's career has gone poof because he'll be spending the best part of his playing years behind bars.

Oh, that's right: Mike Danton was never a star.

Babble off.


At 2:51 p.m., Blogger Matt said...

Hockey players try to hurt each other all the time, they just don't try to seriously injure each other. That is THE one and only purpose of (e.g.) the hard bodycheck. If there's some evidence that Bertuzzi was trying to break Moore's neck, I haven't seen it.

It looks more like hairsplitting than apples & oranges to me, DB.

At 3:25 p.m., Blogger Babbling Brooks said...

Matt, if you'd ever seen me, you'd know I have no hairs to split.

You're missing my point. Of course, it would help if I actually explained it clearly, so here goes...

A guy like Scott Stevens gets a pass from hockey fans because he hurts other guys within the rules. A guy like Bertuzzi doesn't because he 'crossed a line'. And this isn't just about the official rules, because if Bertuzzi had beat the snot out of Moore face to face in a fight, the backlash wouldn't have been nearly as bad.

The 'dirty player' is always going to get vilified more than the one who merely shows piss-poor judgement.

Or do you buy into the five-o-clock shadow versus curly-haired cherub argument that Cosh has vomited up?

At 4:19 p.m., Blogger Matt said...

For starters, I certainly do buy that argument. And it's fair, to a point: a 20-year-old's bad judgment should be more readily forgiven than that of a 30-year-old.

Anyway, Cosh's point (IMO) is not the Heatley has gotten off easy. It's that the bile directed at Bertuzzi has been way, way, insanely over the top.

You have two immoral acts: 1) driving your car 90mph+, where the inadvertent result is the death of another person; and 2) punching a guy in the back of the head during a hockey game, where the inadvertent result is the broken neck of another person.

You'd have a tough time convincing me that 2) is clearly more immoral than 1), but that's almost beside the point. The media and fan reaction (outside Vancouver) to the two acts has been nearly opposite: "fresh start" vs. "rot in jail".

The biggest reason for this is not fans' interpretation of the hockey code. It's the inherent, or previous, likeability of the two guys. Bertuzzi looks like a criminal. Heatley looks like my cousin, and I'd sure want him to be forgiven if he made a mistake like that.

It's a lot easier to support "making an example of" a guy who you don't like. That's what sports media and fans have been doing. Plain and simple.

At 4:39 p.m., Blogger Babbling Brooks said...

Matt, you seem like a nice enough guy, but you and Cosh are completely full of it on this one.

Heatley was stupid. Bertuzzi was mean. It's easier to forgive a foolish person than a malevolent one.

If the actions we were discussing weren't so tragic, I'd find the idea that this is about looks utterly laughable.

Bertuzzi was well-enough liked for his playing skills before the Moore incident, and if you recall, he looked the same then.

At 4:54 p.m., Blogger sacamano said...

I'm with Cosh and Fenwick on this one.

Bertuzzi did nothing that doesn't happen every single game. In fact, he did nothing that isn't expected to happen every single game (i.e., get in a fight).

The results of those fights in 99% of cases result in a 4 minute major, a wildly cheering crowd, and a pat on the ass from your teammates.

In this case it ended much, much worse; but, I think it is crazy to say that Bertuzzi intended for it to end up worse.

In fact, you could make the argument that Bertuzzi had less reason to believe that his actions would result in serious injury than Heatley's could have predicted before his decision to drive insanely fast down a windy road in the middle of the night.

I also suspect the different reactions of Moore and Family vs Snyder's family has much to do with the different treatment Bertuzzi and Heatley are getting. I bet if Snyder's family hadn't been so forgiving, the media would have jumped on Heatley more than they have. It is kind of difficult to vilify him when the victim's own family has expressed total forgiveness and support.

And ya, Big Bert looks like a scumbag and has always been treated like one.

At 5:07 p.m., Blogger Don said...

Doesn't Dan Snyder and Steve Moore's consent/participation play a big part in this?

At 5:41 p.m., Blogger Matt said...

It always does, Don; what I don't see is how you might use it to make a big distinction.

What, Dan Snyder knew when he got in the car that he might get thrown to his death, but Steve Moore had no idea that he might get hurt in a hockey game?

I suppose Snyder might have been telling Heatley to punch it, but for all we know, he might have been screaming for his life while Heatley was laughing.

The point sacamano makes about the families is a good one. The Snyder family's forgiveness gave the media & fans a green light to do the same, which as I've noted, is what they wanted to do anyway.


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