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Time for disciples of ‘The Code’ to grow up

March 9, 2017, 11:14 AM ET [245 Comments]
Ryan Wilson
Pittsburgh Penguins Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
The Pittsburgh Penguins five game road trip didn’t take long to get interesting. In a barbaric tradition like no other the NHL’s lack of discipline has once again created an environment where their star players end up fighting each other.

Evgeni Malkin and Blake Wheeler came to blows early on in the contest. After the game Wheeler spoke about how much he respected Malkin for fighting him and Malkin talked about why he wanted to go through with it. It really doesn’t matter what either of them say because it is all so stupid. It is a dated and moronic code that is way past its expiration date. It is enabled by the league’s lack of discipline. In this specific case it was a high hit thrown by Malkin on Wheeler in a prior game that went unpunished by suspension.

Thankfully neither player was injured and later on in the game Malkin returned to the things that make him great like scoring goals. In fact he scored twice.

Speaking of that moronic code for some reason the Penguins still feel the need to enable it by employing knuckle dragger Tom Sestito. Predictably, Sestito did not deter anything. Deterrence is something the staunchest defenders of enforcers will continue to claim, but will forever be wrong about. He does the complete opposite. He ramps things up. His night consisted of a meaningless fight against Chris Thorburn and then boarding Tobias Enstrom from behind. Enstrom left the game with an upper body injury and did not return. Sestito was given a game misconduct

Again, a polite reminder of what the definition for deterrent is

A thing that discourages or is intended to discourage someone from doing something.

So why did Malkin have to fight again? Shouldn’t Tom Sestito’s magical presence deter people from challenging him? You mean to tell me that magical code is nonsense?

It also doesn’t help when the media plays into this stale and dated fan fiction

No, it wasn’t. This is part of the problem. Stars fighting stars is dumb. Violence for the sake of violence is dumb. The sport is hockey. It would be nice if everybody who still believes in “the code” could just admit that their justification about fighting is just a roundabout way of saying “I like watching people beat the shit out of each other”. You can twist logic and partake in all the mental gymnastics you want, it all ultimately comes back to legitimizing your blood lust in a sport about skating and scoring goals. That’s fine. It’s OK to admit that. You aren’t less of a person for it. There are plenty of outlets to get that fix. I enjoy UFC. Just stop pretending it is part of hockey in 2017.

We will look back at this era of hockey and the people on the side of fighting are going to look foolish. When you consider everything we have started to learn about brain injury I don’t know how you could still willingly promote bare knuckle fighting in a non-combat sport. We are only scratching the surface with the damage found and the consequences that result from it.

Shame on the Penguins organization for promoting this behavior. And make no mistake that is what they did. Tom Sestito wasn’t called up because of his points per 60 or possession. He was called up to participate in hockey’s circle jerk of violence. As always Sestito was a willing participant because that is how he makes a living. I don’t blame him. I blame Mario Lemieux, Jim Rutherford, and Mike Sullivan for falling into this meaningless trap. I’m especially disappointed with Mario because he was the one who had a quality proposal to the league back in 2011:

Lemieux, in his letter last week, suggested fine amounts based on the length of suspension to the player:
• 1-2 games--$50,000 fine to team
• 3-4 games--$100,000 fine to team
• 5-8 games--$250,000 fine to team
• 9-10 games--$500,000 fine to team
• 11-15 games--$750,000 fine to team
• More than 15 games--$1 million fine to team

"If a player is a repeat offender during that season, the fine to the team would double," wrote Lemieux. "Please note that if this proposed system were in operation today, the Pittsburgh Penguins would have been fined $600,000 this season because of recent suspensions to two players. We all have to take responsibility if we are going to improve the game.'"

Just because the league gave the finger to Mario doesn’t mean the team has to resort back to gutter hockey. Stick by those principles even if Gary Bettman and the Department of Player Safety still has their collective heads up their ass. And make no doubt about it they do. The Department of Player Safety is at the root cause of all of this. They are the biggest enablers in this process. They are pathetic. The players still feel as though they have to take things into their own hands, literally, because nothing of substance has ever been accomplished from the league on this front.

To the folks in the league offices, the general managers, the coaches, members of the media, and players who still believe in the code. Grow up. It’s fake news.

Thanks for reading!
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