NHL can't be soft on Downie

JODY VANCE -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 6:36 AM ET

Memo to Steve Downie of the Philadelphia Flyers:

Wanting to "earn a spot on the team" does not require you injure to the point of possibly knocking a player out of the sport.

Don't get me wrong here, I love a good, clean, big hit -- the play of former Devil Scott Stevens comes to mind -- but targeting a guy with his head down and leaving your feet to lay him out with a vicious check, shoulder to head, is just not cool.

Seeing Downie knock Senator Dean McAmmond senseless in Tuesday night's pre-season game illustrates in a frightening fashion what is wrong with the game today.

McAmmond was released from hospital yesterday, diagnosed with a concussion.

Sure,Downie apologized post-game -- sort of. First, he qualified his actions, saying he was (and is) "just trying to earn a spot" in the Flyers lineup.

Does this mean he would do it again if he thought he'd land a permanent spot on the 20-man roster?

He should not be rewarded; he should be punished.

A message needs to be sent to guys who think this way and it should come across loud and clear once and for all.

Vicious hits to the head have no place in hockey at any level, yet year in and year out we see it time and again in the name of competition.

The time has come for the punishment to fit the crime; in fact, the punishment should equal the injury.

This dirty play has no place in the game if you ask me, not in the pre-season, not in the regular season and not even in the playoffs.

Abolish the instigator rule so we can go back to these young, tough, gritty guys doing battle in a consenting way.

What the Steve Downies of the world need to grasp is there is honour in hockey and it is up to the players to maintain, in a dangerous game, the codes that should never be broken.

The main message of this memo is this: Making a name for yourself at all costs is not what hockey is about.

-- Jody Vance is a longtime sportscaster and personality with Leafs TV. Her columns appears Tuesday and Thursday in 24 hours.


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