Once again the question of how much violence is too much violence in hockey is being raised.
In a Midget "A" game in Ontario earlier this year with the game well decided by that point and with tensions already high, Nick Major came to a stop in front of the opposing net, snowing the goaltender in the process. A player from the opposing team took exception and preceded to rip off Major's helmet and hammer away.
Now his family has gone public with the video and wants to see charges. From the CBC:
The police investigation is still ongoing so there is no resolution yet, but it's going to be really interesting to see how it plays out. If assault charges are levied and stick, it would continue to shape the game and the future of fighting in the sport, even if it is coming at a Midget level.
Midget is the last tier in youth hockey before Junior and Major Junior, which are followed by the professional leagues.
Years ago, this would have just been accepted but at what point is it crossing the boundaries? Many will say that this is just part of the game but I have a hard time buying that. Yes, hockey has always had fighting in it but it's not like it's completely allowed, it does result in a penalty every time. So it is, technically, against the rules. But we all know it's "allowed" and even glorified to an almost gladiatorial extent.
What's crazy to me is that the league initially said Nick Major had it coming to him after snowing a goalie. Why? Isn't that what the rule book is for, why unsportsmanlike conduct is in the books? Why does a player deserve to get his face smashed in for getting some ice shavings on the goalie? I understand that goalies are protected and it's a no-no, but doesn't the punishment go well beyond the crime, especially in a case like this where it wasn't just a hard check but a flurry of fists to the face?
At the same time, I completely understand the weariness of getting courts involved in hockey. It wouldn't seem exactly fair to me if the offender were given an actual criminal record for something that went just a little beyond the regular bounds of what you see in hockey. While what he did is not encouraged in the sports, it's not exactly discouraged either.
Whether or not there will be criminal charges in this instance will be determined by the authorities, but the question is should there be? I'm sure everybody has an opinion on that.
S/t to @EricOnSportsLaw