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Report: Kaleta’s appeal is causing ‘widespread unease’ in NHLPA

Oct 28, 2013, 9:57 AM EDT

Patrick Kaleta Getty Images

As Buffalo Sabres pest Patrick Kaleta ponders taking his appeal of a 10-game suspension to an independent arbitrator, the New York Post’s Larry Brooks reports that the situation is divisive within the NHLPA.

In a nutshell, the contention is that some within the union believe that much is being done for guys like Kaleta while victims of hits – also players, of course – are left in the lurch.

The NHLPA has an obligation to represent all defendants. But who represents the victims here? Who represented Rick Nash on the Brad Stuart phone hearing? The NHL, apparently.

It’s worth noting that it was the players – not the league – who seemed likely to hold up safety-first changes like hybrid icing (which eventually went through, of course).

Does that mean that the players union is negligent? That’s probably an unfair leap to make, yet these rumblings do make Kaleta’s approach that much more interesting to watch.

  1. jpelle82 - Oct 28, 2013 at 10:03 AM

    unions only work if there’s unity.

    • withseidelinn - Oct 28, 2013 at 10:11 AM

      Unions rarely work at all.

      • cofran2004 - Oct 28, 2013 at 10:24 AM

        how very ignorant of you

      • guitarhunterdude - Oct 28, 2013 at 10:50 AM

        Certainly not in this economy. It’s a union-busting time we live in.

      • esracerx46 - Oct 28, 2013 at 11:01 AM

        Pun intended? I’m going to agree with you for the most part. Unions were created in an age where unfair and harsh work environments existed. Today, that’s not necessarily the case. Unions today hinder a companies ability to fair someone. If a teacher has reached tenure (I believe 4 years in Illinois) it is almost impossible to fire that teacher. Regardless if the teacher was underperforming or not. For a tenured teacher to get fired where I’m from they have to do 1 of 2 things, touch a student. Or come to school drunk. Unions today drive up the costs of everything. The union healthcare plan is a scam for the union to skim money from its members. And those members don’t get said healthcare if they’re not working. The retirement plan is the same way. A friend of mine was in the operators union. He and his wife divorced. She got cancer and was dying. She wanted to give him his pension plan back but he didn’t want to have her deal with that while she was dying. So he figured it would go to their daughter after she passed. Nope. The union took his ex-wifes half. The guy has an excavator and a small sawmill for a hobby. If the union catches him doing side work, he loses the rest of his pension. Players don’t need a union. That’s what agents are for.

  2. newjerseydevilsfanpuckcollection - Oct 28, 2013 at 10:07 AM

    As a repeat offender, Kaleta needs to realize that he should not be requesting a lighter sentence.

    It reminds me of how the judicial system in Canada and the US allows repeat offenders to be released early from jail, or to re-offend.

    Honestly, the only way I would agree that his suspension be less than 10, would be a clause where it states that if Kaleta causes one more injury, a lifetime ban be implemented.

    The way he is playing the system like a fiddle is really disturbing.

    As I have said in a previous comment. If a player causes injury, their suspension should equal the lenght of the time it takes the player to recover. If its a career ending injury, the the infracting player is banned for life as well. “Eye for an eye”.

    • withseidelinn - Oct 28, 2013 at 10:18 AM

      I like the idea of matching the suspension with recovery time. I also think that after 3 or 4 suspensions for the same cause (hit to head) your right to appeal should be taken away.

      • newjerseydevilsfanpuckcollection - Oct 28, 2013 at 10:24 AM

        Exactly my thoughts as well.

        Kaleta needs to realize that his antics have caused injury multiple times.

        This is one time that I will agree with Bettman on his comments…that due to Kaleta’s re-occuring offences, he denied the appeal based on those grounds.

      • thailer35 - Oct 28, 2013 at 10:45 AM

        What about Pronger’s career ending hit? Didn’t even draw a penalty, but should Martin Hanzal be banned for life? They is way too much gray in a rules system based on “eye for an eye”.

    • letsgolightning - Oct 28, 2013 at 11:12 AM

      I’ve thought about the eye for an eye rule and it could be good, but there are some holes that leave the possibility for abuse. I think there would need to be a way to address these issues before implementing anything along these lines.

      1- You can’t control the injury history of someone you’re hitting. There are players out there who seem more injury-prone. Hitters shouldn’t have to worry about “This guy’s already gotten way too many concussions, I don’t want to end my career by giving him the ‘last’ concussion that the doc decides he can’t come back from.” Keep in mind, players get hurt on legal hits too.

      2- Staying hurt for retaliation. Say you’re in the playoffs and an important hitter on the opposing team (Chara, Weber, Suter, one of those types) knocks your guy out. You’ve got a concussed 3rd liner you could easily spare for the rest of the series. Coach just has to say he’s still having symptoms or being kept out “until we’re sure he’s 100%.” Costs you relatively nothing, and you can keep an opponent’s star out for the rest of the series. This is my bigger concern.

      • withseidelinn - Oct 28, 2013 at 11:28 AM

        Agree with you on both points. I think it would be very difficult to maintain consistency, but I do like the concept of it.

    • winger58 - Oct 28, 2013 at 11:58 AM

      So by your logic, Kaleta should not have been suspended? No injury. Not even a penalty called!

      I would agree.

  3. nyrdave - Oct 28, 2013 at 10:25 AM

    The fact that he keeps appealing tells me that he hasn’t taken responsibility for his actions. That’s bothersome because he obviously won’t change the way he plays if he feels that a suspension like this isn’t “fair”. So it’s just a matter of time before he does it again.

    But then again, what do you expect from someone who also turtles on the ice?

    • jdodge864jdodge864 - Oct 28, 2013 at 1:27 PM

      I disagree. PK is in a business that pays him for his play. This is his livelyhood, and he is appealing to prove his innocense and continue to do the job he loves. The NHL needs to take action on the selective disiplne approach they currently have and use the same standards for all players. Not reviewing vicious hits by Chara on a regular basis because he’s a star is infuriating, and teaching the youth of today, that as long as your one of the best, you can do whatever you want.

  4. mpops86 - Oct 28, 2013 at 11:22 AM

    Per Jeff Marek, Gary Bettman would love to throw mega suspensions at players for dirty hits. He’s said on many occasions that it’s the union that argues for a watered-down sentence.

    It’s a precarious position for the union to find itself in, but I believe that defending the perpetrators will only land them on the wrong side of history.

    • hockeydon10 - Oct 28, 2013 at 1:44 PM

      That’s an interesting claim if true. It doesn’t pass the sniff test 100%. He may be just answering in a bit of a PC manner.

      If true, it seems the NHL could really leverage the NHLPA against itself.

      Instead of 10 games for this type of hit, hammer offending players with suspensions ranging from 15 to 40 games. Then, when the player appeals, and he will, make the NHLPA decide and go on record as wanting it reduced. After all, it’s their members that make comments like, “We’ve got to get hits like this out of the game.” Make the PA explain why it’s okay for one member to put another on LTIR with questionable hits. The PA will either have to commit to getting rid of dirty hits for real, or simply continuing to pay lip service to wanting to get these dirty hits out of the game.

      Seems like that would be a real win-win for the NHL.

    • killerpgh - Oct 28, 2013 at 4:54 PM

      If that was true than why did Bettman reduce the suspension of Torres from 25 to 21 games and allowed Todd Burtuzzi to return to the NHL after only serving 20 games for attacking Steve Moore from behind and ending his career? Bettman is a weasel and if he did in fact say that I would say he was doing nothing but trying to shift the blame.

  5. danaking - Oct 28, 2013 at 11:40 AM

    I’ve always wondered about this, in every sport. When the union stands up against a fine or suspension levied against one if its members, no one seems to think that injured party is also a dues paying member. Fines and suspension levels are part of the CBA. So long as what is assessed meets the standard–and there is no evidence the suspended player has been singled out for unjust punishment–the union should show no preference toward either party. It could be argued it has more of a responsibility toward the player on the receiving end of the hit, as he was the one who risked injury.

    Maybe it’s the union who should asses the penalties.

    Whatever happens, it’s good to see a players’ union that may fianlly be looking at this from both sides.

  6. joey4id - Oct 28, 2013 at 1:57 PM

    The NHLPA is in a huge bind. They have to walk the fine line between player safety and player livelihood. They represent John Scott as well as Eriksson. Kaleta as well as Johnson. Lapierre as well as Boyle, and the list goes on and on… While they acknowledge concussions are extremely damaging, they can’t go on the warpath and make too much of a scene. Some of the members would likely be out of a job if the go on an all out offensive to protect the players. So, on the one hand they lobby discreetly behind the scenes, and on the other they cater to the NHL’s desire to use the physically of the sport to sell the game.

    • thesportsjudge - Oct 28, 2013 at 4:29 PM

      Those “members would likely be out of a job” are the type that probably don’t belong in the first place. Rarely will those types have the skillset to make a difference in a clean, effective way.

      • joey4id - Oct 28, 2013 at 4:47 PM

        I don’t disagree with your comment. The fact remains that the PA must support paying members.

      • hockeydon10 - Oct 28, 2013 at 6:11 PM

        “Those members would be out of a job” also opens up that position for someone else to have a job. And to become a PA member. They’re not losing on total membership with that solution.

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