Your run-of-the-mill NHL-er is poor relative to the standards of Major League Baseball or the NBA, but he still makes enough that any fine the league levies against him is strictly symbolic.
I’m sure whatever charity is fortunate enough to collect the windfall appreciates the cash, but it’s not going to make a player think twice about blindsiding an opponent or what have you.
So since players can’t be fined enough to make them stop trying to maim each other, the NHL should go the other way. Stop fining them entirely.
Instead, the NHL should increase the amount of the fines by several orders of magnitude. . . and levy them against the offending teams’ cap number the following season.
My idea isn’t a be-all, end all solution because half the teams are too far under the cap for it to be a realistic deterrent.
But some teams – notably the Penguins – would feel the pinch instantly. And since Matt Cooke clearly has no respect for the league’s authority, maybe somebody in the Pens organization would be able to get through to him when his antics started cramping Ray Shero’s budget.
Fines that count against the cap seem especially fair considering playoff bonuses do also. If the league can de-facto pinch the Blackhawks for rewarding success, it it makes sense that teams icing players that consistently misbehave are likewise punished.
The NHL is putting a great product on the ice right now, and it can’t risk devolving into a punch line again.
Mario Lemieux can issue all the sanctimonious press releases he wants. But really, truly getting front offices on the right side of the law is the best way to ensure that doesn’t happen.