Buffalo Sabres' Craig Rivet, left, and Philadelphia Flyers' Daniel Carcillo fight in 2009
Nick Boynton is a retired NHL goon. Daniel Carcillo also skated in the NHL. He was a dirty, sadistic hack. Carcillo played like a criminal.
Boynton recently wrote a piece for The Players' Tribune web site. Carcillo did a video. Each talked about issues that stem from head trauma. Each decried the NHL's laissez-faire attitude in dealing with that problem.
The message is correct.
The problem just needs better messengers.
Tom Wilson's path of rage through the NHL playoffs ultimately led him and his Washington Capitals to the Stanley Cup. Wilson handed out head shots like candy on Halloween and only got suspended once.
Too many “old-school” TV types said it was just “playoff hockey,” and the NHL nodded in silent agreement.
Every shot to the head should be penalized. Intent should be taken out of the equation. If that isn't always 100 percent fair, live with it. Err on the side of caution, not on the side of brain damage.
The NHL should ban fighting. We keep hearing horror stories about those who specialize in fisticuffs. There's a body count. So get rid of it.
There aren't many complaints about the NHL's current concussion protocol. Continue to refine it. Make sure it's followed to the letter.
The NHL should acknowledge every inch of this problem, especially the link between hockey and head trauma. That will be proven in the inevitable lawsuit.
Then get Paul Kariya to talk about it. Or Pat LaFontaine. Or Marc Savard. Or Sidney Crosby. Legitimate players whose careers were marred by head trauma.
Hire Kariya or LaFontaine to be in charge of the NHL's Department of Player Safety. Employing an ex-goon, Washington County native George Parros, in that job is one of the dumbest things NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman has done. Parros couldn't play a lick, and his brief track record suggests he's going to look after his own kind. Same goes with Colin Campbell, the dinosaur in charge of hockey ops.
Kariya and Lafontaine are people we need to hear from regarding this mess.
Panthers defenseman Nick Boynton, right, throws a punch during a fight with Boston Bruins left wing Milan Lucic in Boston, Friday Nov. 21, 2008.(AP/Charles Krupa)
Not Boynton and Carcillo.
As Boynton readily admits at The Players' Tribune, “I tried to hurt people.”
It's likely some of those people are going through the same problems as Boynton, and it's at least partly because of Boynton. Boynton appears to be navigating a wide range of emotions. Guilt should be one of them.
No one wants Boynton and Carcillo to suffer.
But they are merely reaping what they sowed.
They are not victims, not by any stretch of the imagination.
Had hockey not embraced the violence they practiced, Boynton and Carcillo would have spent very little time in the NHL, if any. Hockey is a dangerous game at least partly because players like Boynton and Carcillo made it so.
If Boynton and Carcillo had it do over again, they would. That's regardless of what they claim now.
When the devil comes knocking to collect, everyone wants to undo their Faustian bargain. But, going back to the salad days of their serious hockey, Boynton and Carcillo would still do whatever was required to play in the NHL.
Boynton and Carcillo deserve zero sympathy for their respective plights. They played in predatory fashion and shouldn't be taken seriously when they babble about a problem they helped promulgate.
Mark Madden hosts a radio show 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WXDX-FM (105.9).