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OUR OPINION: Hockey executives deserve game DQ

Here are a couple of true things to be said about hockey.

First, it's a great game.

Second, the people in charge apparently want to drive it into the ice.

Consider Gary Bettman, the commissioner of the National Hockey League.

Picture tubes had hardly gone dark after the Olympic gold medal game -- the most-watched hockey game in three decades -- before Bettman suggested that NHL players wouldn't play in the next winter games.

Nothing had done more than Olympic coverage to build hockey's popularity. Arguably, the U.S. victory over the Soviet Union in 1980 created a generation of hockey fans.

The U.S./Canada game -- a thriller from start to finish -- did the same this year.

And Bettman worries that the Olympics might detract from interest in the professional game?

How many people watch any professional game other than the Stanley Cup finals?

The Olympics are a great foundation for building interest in hockey, from frozen ponds to professional arenas.

Don't mess with a good thing, Mr. Commissioner. The Olympics are no threat to your league.

Closer to home, WCHA Commissioner Bruce McLeod has the opposite problem.

He let months pass before taking action against a threat to the college game. McLeod finally suspended a St. Cloud State University player who's been involved in a number of illegal hits during the season.

Aaron Marvin will sit out three games.

It's about time.

Marvin's illegal hit on Chay Genoway cost the talented UND captain his season.

At the time, Marvin was suspended for a single game.

In announcing the three-game suspension last week, McLeod said he considered not just an open ice hit on Wisconsin's Blake Geoffrion -- coincidentally, also the captain of his team as well as the league's leading scorer (a position Genoway might have occupied had he been able to play this season).

This overdue suspension follows McLeod's failure to punish Marvin two weeks ago, when UND played in St. Cloud, Minn. Instead, Marvin escaped a suspension while UND's Mario Lamoureux sat out a game.

McLeod concluded that Lamoureux was the instigator although videotape showed that both players had dropped their gloves.

Veteran Herald sportswriter Virg Foss called McLeod's action "the dumbest decision I've seen in my 40-plus years of following the WCHA."

League officials, Foss pointed out, had lost control of the ice.

That's a far greater threat to hockey -- and to individual hockey players -- than any Olympics game will ever be.

-- Mike Jacobs for the Herald