Mark Bell = Anti-Christ?

22Aug07

I hate it when the media gets facts wrong, especially when they seem ignorant about hockey. Kukla pointed out this article which makes Mark Bell out to be a DUI-addict who was speeding away gleefully after his accident. Look, Bell’s no angel and what he did was stupid and wrong, but this guy’s article doesn’t get the facts straight.

Here’s the email I sent him.

Mr. Ingram,

I just read your article on sports and image. Perhaps I’m a bit biased because I’m a hockey fanatic and I cover the league for Fox Sports, but you need to get some of the facts straight about Mark Bell:

“He fled the scene, leaving the driver with head injuries.”

Technically, yes. But what he actually did was get out of the car and walk a few blocks away and sit down. Police found him sitting on the curb. Not that that’s terribly commendable but it’s a big difference from speeding down the highway after an accident.

“This was also the third alcohol-related offense Bell was involved in since his entry in the League.”

Not true. Bell was involved in some incidents when he was in junior but they did not involve DUI. Since joining the NHL, Bell hasn’t had any other problems until the SJ incident. Prior to being traded to San Jose, he was the Chicago Blackhawks’ Man of the Year for community service and outreach.

“In most states, a third citing for aggravated DUI would run someone a minimum mandatory sentence of 3-7 years in prison, yet Bell literally gets to ice skate in hell as the controversy is frozen over by most of the media and NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman.”

“Bettman, who stated the league was satisfied no NHL games were compromised because Tocchet did not bet on hockey, has been strangely silent on the issue that a three-time DUI offender would be allowed to play the season without further punishment.”

The Santa Clara County prosecutor made it extremely clear that Bell was not given any special treatment and that anyone in a case similar to this would have gotten a similar sentence. She also stated that he is permitted to play this season and serve during the offseason similar to other people convicted of a SINGLE (not three — again, check your facts) DUI would get to serve on weekends so as not to threaten their work status.

In addition, the difference between Bell and, say, Michael Vick is that Bell has 1) admitted his mistake 2) talked with the media and the league about it 3) claims to have not had a single drink since the incident and changed his life 4) is willing to be held responsible for it.

Why is MADD not up in arms about Bell? Probably because 1) they don’t know who the hell he is and 2) even if they did, it’s not like he’s running away from them. He’s admitting a terrible mistake and trying to learn from it to change his life.

I’m in no way condoning what Bell did, I’m just trying to point out that your story doesn’t get the facts straight and winds up hanging the man for a history he doesn’t have.

Mike

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5 Responses to “Mark Bell = Anti-Christ?”

  1. 1 Lyle Richardson

    So you’re “ninja” over at Kukla’s! If not, someone’s cribbing from you.

    When I said Bell got special treatment I stated that it was done to allow him to maintain employment. As I also noted on Kukla’s, if you or I received that sentence we’d be heading to jail immediately.

    I should qualify that in noting that, as you pointed out regarding the judgement, we’d end up serving that sentence on weekends.

    I stand by my comments about the media coverage. The bulk of that came when Bell’s sentencing was handed down, almost all of it was from the Toronto media and lasted a couple of days. No one judged him at the time of his arrest nor raised the question about it during the season. Indeed, the news about it received more hype in the hockey blogosphere than in NHL media circles.

    Now of course if Bell fails to play well next season his impending jail sentence will be brought up. As I noted on my website, I’ll be pulling for Bell because I really want him to turn his life around. By the sound of things he’s done so regarding his personal life, but now he’s got to prove that it won’t affect his professional life.

    Cheers.

  2. 2 Mike Chen

    No Ninja here. I think that mysterious warrior and I are just on the same wavelength. I don’t think he got any sort of special treatment and the interviews I’ve read with him have been pretty stand up about the whole thing.

    There were a lot of comments on the Sharks message board about the whole thing and obviously it got a bit of press here in the Bay Area. The Santa Clara County prosecutor was pretty upfront in the media too stating that it wasn’t a case of special treatment and it would have worked around anyone’s work schedule because of the nature of the sentence.

    As for the guy’s article, I just think he saw some headlines and threw together an article without checking his facts. That kind of stuff irritates me.

    And it sounds like Bell really needed a year to get his stuff together and figure out his life. I just wish it wasn’t the year where he tanked for the Sharks!

  3. 3 ninja

    Lyle, I am a frequent reader of yours and respect almost everything you write, but you were off on this one.

    No special treatment, at least nothing a decent lawyer can’t get you. And the mostly Toronto media reaction came down hard on Bell and JFJ. Bell, for exhibiting a history of alcohol-related incidents, wasting his opportunities in Chicago and San Jose, scoring triple the legal limit, causing mysterious and ambiguous head injuries, and basically was cast as a lost cause. JFJ, for getting suckered into taking on a lost cause.

    Even I wanted some questions answered upon hearing of the jail time. And luckily for my inner Leafs fan, those answers were adequate. Bell is off the sauce for almost an entire year and JFJ was aware of Bell’s situation, both legally and personally.

    My apologies if I came across as provocative, but I wanted to set the record a little more straight.

  4. 4 ninja

    Oh yeah, Mike, nice email. Those glaring flaws needed to be pointed out, loudly.

  5. 5 The Acid Queen

    Go Mike!

    Let us know what if anything the guy says in response.


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