This could have been another Troy Glaus blog. But then he hung 'em up for the season to have surgery.
Just five days after being named in a controversial steroid report.
Must be a weird coincidence or sumthin'. Huh. That SI.com report must have hit him right in the heel.
So, instead, we'll write about the NHL Players' Association. You know, the union you loved to hate until they pretty much either a) decided to get all buddy-buddy with the league or b) lost the will to live.
Well, the union is still around. Still without an executive director, mind you, but still breathing and collecting dues. Evidence of its existence came to light late Wednesday when, in a breathtaking news release, the NHLPA announced it was pretty darn upset about the 15-game suspension handed down to Mark Bell.
For an organization that is desperately in need of an issue that might actually galvanize its membership, this couldn't have come at a better time.
Most NHL players, you see, while upset about the entire Ted Saskin affair, aren't particularly energized enough to actually mobilize. But in this case, the suspension of Bell is a shot across the bow of every NHL player.
There was no precedent for the 15-game ban. Moreover, it piggybacks on top of the indefinite suspension that's part of the NHL-NHLPA substance abuse problem.
Seems to me, and to more than a few union activists, that this is another instance of the NHL simply doing whatever it wants and assuming the union won't raise a fuss.
Well, this time, the NHLPA may actually fight. In the wake of this suspension, it's clear that there are no parameters to the powers Gary Bettman holds in terms of discipline for off-ice transgressions. Moreover, there's potentially a competitive issue if the commish is going to pick and choose which criminal complaint or guilty plea requires league action.
The union would like to know what the rules are going to be. It would also like to know how a rehabilitation program designed not to punish players for admitting to substance issues has now essentially resulted in a lengthy suspension. The trick will be to question the Bell suspension will at the same time being careful not to implicitly condone drinking and driving offences.
Still, the union clearly has an issue here. Now we'll see whether the spirit of Bob Goodenow lives.
As the Maple Leafs kick off training camp today with medicals in preparation for a new NHL season, Damien Cox can help you get in game shape with his weekly mailbag which returns Thursday, Sept. 20, in this space. Click here to submit a question.