Now that the suspensions have been set down by Michigan and the CCHA, much of the talk amongst fans is whether Steve Kampfer should sue Tropp, Comley and/or Michigan State for Saturday’s incident.
Many of the comments on this site have suggested this, and former Ann Arbor News columnist Jim Carty (who’s in law school now and couldn’t wait to test his chops) discussed the possibility on WTKA 1050AM Monday morning. An excerpt of his call [full podcast here]:
Basically Carty explains that there’s certain risk that you assume when you engage in any activity, in this case, college hockey. The question becomes whether the incident occurs outsides the bounds of the normal risk that is assumed to be part of the game. And then, to sue, Carty offers that you usually tie the suit to some form of damages, like if Kampfer lost an eye or experienced damage to the head, for instance.
For more on this, I contacted former WTKA morning host Dave Shand who’s still in the throes of his lawsuit against Bill Martin. The former NHL and Michigan player, and assistant under Red Berenson offered his perspective of this.
“There are probably going to be criminal charges filed and Steve is going to have a heck of a civil suit against Tropp, Comley and MSU. This is way, way beyond what is permitted by the rules, and everyone in hockey, never mind the, knew that Steve had a broken neck.”
“I have seen a lot of brutal incidents but this is unique. A kid viciously attacked in the off-season, by a Michigan football player, had to be put is a halo to heal a broken neck, makes a courageous comeback and then is viciously slashed IN THE NECK at the end of a game that was over.”
“[Spartan coach Rick] Comley didn’t send his player to hurt someone, but sent him out with a clear message that making shit hit the fan won’t hurt. The MSU player leads their team in penalty minutes and is on the ice in the last minute of a game that’s over? That is pre-meditated. Comley and MSU are trying to cover their asses like crazy. I still think there will be charges.”
If you’re going to maintain a ban on fighting you have to come down even harder on these incidents because players have a more limited ability to self-police. If college hockey is serious about protecting its players it must take action.
I come from the Don Cherry school of hockey, and I agree. I asked Shand about this as well:
“I think fighting should be allowed. I have said so publicly many times. It eliminates the stick work and the chickenshit players. It is always interesting to watch what happens to the “brave” college players once the cage comes off and fighting is permitted in the pros. Many just disappear.”
Related: Recap of everything on this incident from Yost Built.