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Column: McSorley not a matter for police

The following situations are unacceptable:

— You’re in a grocery store, minding your own business, looking for a half-dozen grade-A eggs when the WWF’s Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson finds you, and shines The People’s 20-Pound Turkey up real nice and turns it sideways before um proceeding from there.

— You’re crossing Lake Tahoe Boulevard to catch the bus when Steve Atwater appears out of nowhere to lay an orthodonture-rearranging open-field hit on you, then taunts you for going over the middle – of the street.



— David Beckham trips over your foot on the way to his seat at the new Horizon theaters, prompting the usher to red-card you and throw you out of “The Whole Nine Yards” and suspend you from the next movie you want to see.

Anyone who has debilitating nightmares of any of these three happening has issues a simple sports column probably can’t address. But they’re an illustration of why the assault-with-a-weapon charges Vancouver crown police filed against Boston Bruins enforcer Marty McSorley are bad for the sport. Among sports ideas in general, the decision ranks right up there with a women’s professional soccer league (Anybody heard of “talent dilution?” Or the WNBA or Major League Soccer, for that matter?), ESPN’s “Matchup of the Millennium” series (“Lombardi appears perplexed by the instant replay challenge. He keeps asking what a ‘VCR’ is.”) and the MLS drafting players out of high school (“Remember where Leon Smith went to school? That’s where we got our goalie.”)



I’m certainly not suggesting McSorley should escape punishment for deliberately hitting Vancouver Canucks forward Donald Brashear in the head, leaving Brashear a bleeding, twitching mess on the ice. The argument is, if he used his stick as a weapon, the police should treat it as if he did the same thing in the parking lot.

But they shouldn’t. It’s a matter for the league to settle. Yes, a hockey stick can be a full-fledged, lethal, five-day-waiting-period-required weapon. But so can a NASCAR racer, or a pair of skis at full tilt.

So, the NHL should suspend McSorley until the expansion Columbus Bluejackets three-peat, have him traded to the warmest-weather expansion team possible (Tampa? Atlanta? San Salvador?) for penance, and sentence him to four years hard labor as Eric Lindros’ publicist.

People who compete in a sporting arena – be it a football stadium, ski race course or hockey rink – accept a different version of the social contract. And they accept a higher level of risk because of it. Motorcycle racers love that version of the contract because it keeps families in Ford Excursions away from blind corners, and aerials skiers do, too because it keeps gawking Bay Area residents on skis out from under the kickers. But it’s also that version of the contract that lets lacrosse players stick-check, wrestlers pile-drive, and snowboard crossers scrap and claw for position.

Most of what takes place on the field would put you in serious trouble off the field. Miss Manners probably discourages putting 11 helmets on the ball, the State Patrol definitely doesn’t want you to drive like Dale Earnhardt, and just try keeping your ski pass after patrol sees your Daron-Rahlves-at-Kvitfjell impression.

I’m not defending McSorley, by any stretch – that’s a job for the inevitable future governor of South Carolina, John Rocker. But McSorely broke one of the NHL’s sacred covenants, so let the league’s high priests deal with it.

The long arm of the law should drop its hockey gloves.

– Tahoe Daily Tribune reporter Dan Thomas isn’t looking to getting pulled over after this one


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