I'm not sure who the bigger coward is.
Is it Kelsey Wilson? The man who wields his hockey stick like a Louisville Slugger, displaying the moral code of Luca Brazi.
Or is it Simon Kirkham? The orchestrator of the judicial system in the EIHL, which allows someone to walk out of the courtroom on probation when they should be doing hard time. Was Stringer Bell reclining in Kirkham's office, staring at across at him over his glasses while he shivered and quickly scribbled down "three"?
Wilson should be done. He and his home run derby swing should be back, back, back, back.... Gone.
His slash on Sheffield's Simon Ferguson was cheap garbage. It was a purposeful assault that challenges the notion that Kirkham is even the responsible party for administering any discipline at all on the matter.
Even though it was on the rink and hockey regularly deals with responses to incidents like this according to the rulebook, out of curiosity at what point does criminal law intervene? Does it stop at the rib cage? Because if that was Ferguson's head on the batting tee that Wilson connected with then it's time to reconsider who gets to deal with the aftermath. Someone get Marty McSorley's lawyer on the blower.
Maybe there was a misprint in the press release I received and somebody had forgotten to put a one before the three or a zero after it. But this is the EIHL and even by its eye-popping disciplinary procedures, this was an outcome that merits the complete shock and disdain that it is being met by. It is a decision that is even more alarming when considering some of the bans of equivalent or longer length that have been handed out this season. I don't even need to make a list and start naming names of those who have gone before him. Wilson's shabby act stands alone.
Wilson's shame is only matched by Kirkham's ineptitude. For the EIHL's head of officiating and discipline to hand out a three-game cop-out like that is outright weird. Is there something going on behind the scenes here?
There have been some head scratching moments in recent years that have challenged fans to question why they bother, that make them wonder how the scales of justice are not just imbalanced but bereft of even a hint of any equilibrium that may permeate what amounts to due process in the league.
This is one of the best cases yet.
Naturally, the Panthers have given their reason for why he did it. "Kelsey was reacting to a blindside attack on a team mate who was on the team bench as the opposing player passed the Nottingham bench," read a statement on the team's website.
That makes it ok then. May well be the case. Ferguson or a team-mate could have attacked a player on the Nottingham bench. That motivation doesn't justify a see-you-next-week three-game ban.
Wilson was only signed at the start of the month and perhaps he felt the need to stand up and be counted in his new club's big rivalry game. But that doesn't mean it's a three-game ban. Once again, because Ferguson is a career tough guy, do we assess the impact of Wilson's stick more leniently? Does the reputation of the "victim" matter here?
No matter the circumstances that preceded it, even if Donald Brashear was skating for the Steelers, in hockey's sometimes warped code of an eye for an eye, Wilson acted with zero class and zero respect. Maybe I'm too old school, but you're allowed to still drop the gloves and fight right? Isn't that the way to settle what you perceive to be a slight by the other team? Or do you just bypass all of that and jump straight to a slash when play has stopped? There's a way to do business in this game. There's a way to do nasty work. There's a way to get your hands dirty and do it the right way.
This beer league of ours just took another shot in the credibility stakes. Great job guys.