Monday, September 1, 2008

Just let the man play!

I originally posted this over at my blog, Simply Drew. I figured I'd post it here as well since it certainly pertains to TMFB's topic matter.

I'm sure some of you have heard of the plight of Brandon Sugden by now.

For those who haven't, his story puts yet another bad spotlight on hockey and makes me want to lash out against the NHL even more than I already have.

Brandon is a career minor league enforcer. He played his last AHL game in the 2006-07 season, announcing it as a "retirement." He chose to move on to the semi-pro LNAH in Quebec for part of that season and the 2007-08 season.

Recently, Brandon found out that his father has been diagnosed with cancer. He has less than one year to live. He decided he would try one final time to make it so his dad could see him skate in an NHL game before he dies. Brandon was even lucky enough to gain a tryout this year in the New York Islanders' camp.

But, a roadblock has been put in place. Because of his retirement, then his jump to another pro league, Sugden needed the approval of all 30 NHL teams to come back, or else play one more season on an AHL-only contract, or the LNAH, or some other minor pro league. By the time that timeframe passes, his father will likely end up dying. When it was put to a vote, three teams rejected his desire to attempt to return to the NHL, thus ending his hopes of coming back this season.

These three teams have remained anonymous and have given no reason as to why they have voted against him. Granted, Sugden has had some problems in his past, including at one point a lifetime ban from the ECHL for throwing his stick into the crowd due to a fan verbally abusing him about his past problems with drugs and alcohol. He has turned his life around and had a moderately successful career in the AHL and has been a major fan favorite in Syracuse where he played from 2003-2006.

Why should three of thirty teams be allowed to mess with this man's livelihood in such a way? 90% of the NHL approves of his return. Why should only 10% decide his fate? Why not put it up to those who will have to play with and against him and let the players decide? Why should he not have a final chance? Marty McSorley got another chance. So did Todd Bertuzzi, Brad May, Chris Simon (two extra chances for him), Jesse Boulerice (another with two shots, if you include his lifetime OHL ban), Gordie Dwyer, Dale Hunter, Steve Downie, and Tom Lysiak.

Why not Brandon Sugden?

If you are as sick of this as I am, I would encourage you to sign this petition. The group wants to get 2,000 signatures on it as soon as possible. While online petitions often don't mean a thing, it's better than just sitting back and letting it happen.

This isn't just something for fans of tough hockey. It's not even for hockey fans alone. This is for ANYONE who has ever had a dream and worked their tail off to try to achieve it.

Help the man achieve his dream. Go to this link, and add your name to the petition and show your support.