The long days and sleepless nights continue for Dean Lombardi. Horribly wronged and forced to see his summer hobbled by evildoers, he waits and waits for justice while Gary Bettman sits by the pool and the Edmonton Oilers dance a jig. When will the madness end?
The NHL is a funny league, always has been. Whereas most leagues decide on penalties in a clear and timely manner, the NHL goes about things like a 30 man club that makes things up as they go along. Which is, of course, what it is: a group of 30 guys doing whatever the hell they want.
In this specific case, one imagines that the men at the ownership level would/could be involved and the issue resolved, but there’s also the very public comments by Mr. Lombardi which makes the story unique. Once Mr. Lombardi spoke to the media, the private club of 30 turned things over to the masses.
OKAY, WHAT NEXT?
Whenever great minds are challenged by big problems, solutions are sure to follow. NHL history does offer us some clues about how this situation might turn out. In the fall of 1971, Oakland’s Seals and the Chicago (at the time) Black Hawks became entangled in a tug of war over a goalie named Gerry Desjardins. The Seals cried foul in training camp that fall because Desjardins was injured an unable to play.
NHL head man Clarence Campbell was asked to intervene into the battle by Oakland, but sent it back to the two teams and told them to solive it. And that’s what they did:
I think the Oilers have the upper hand in this disconnect. It is completely possible for their doctors to have acted in good faith at the time of the deal and reported Colin Fraser’s injury as one that did not require surgery and or long term rehab. It is also possible LA’s doctors were correct is diagnosing Fraser’s injury as one that required action.
I don’t know for certain, but there’s a chance we never actually hear one damn thing about this ruling. If Bettman decides (as I’ve suggested) there’s a "no fault" situation then the league and member teams will go about their business. Perhaps Helene (not Helen) Elliott will get a quote from Mr. Lombardi (she appears to be a helluva reporter) in the distant future about the actual solution.
But we shouldn’t count on it. Unless there is a penalty, we may never know. Such are the trials of following 30 guys who belong to a club that makes up the rules as they go along.