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Saturday, December 23, 2006

What to do when you screw up

The NHL suspended Nashville Predators forward Scott Nichol yesterday for nine games after Nichol blindsided another player, Buffalo Sabres defenseman Jaroslav Spacek, on Thursday night. Nichol retaliated after Spacek drove him into the goalpost late in the Sabres' lopsided 7-2 victory over the Preds.

I can understand Nichol's response after Spacek's dangerous play, one that could have injured Nichol. Even though fighting is still a significant element in the NHL, striking someone when they are defenseless is wrong. I wish Nichol would have gotten Spacek's attention first before engaging him, but I applaud Nichol for how he handled yesterday's decision by the league:

"First, I offer my apologies to Jaroslav Spacek and am thankful that he was not hurt," Nichol said. "I have great respect for the game and my fellow players, and in the heat of the moment (Thursday) night, I lost my cool and reacted emotionally to being fouled. I am not proud of my actions, but I take full responsibility and accept the consequences. "I also apologize to my teammates, coaches, the organization and Predators fans, and look forward to returning to action and helping my team."

Nichol took responsibility for his actions, acknowledged what he did wrong, and accepted his punishment. He didn't pass blame or try to justify his actions. He just said, "mea culpa," and let it go.

I think it's refreshing to see a public figure these days just admit what he did wrong and accept responsibility without reservation. We all make mistakes, but not everyone knows how to own them when they happen. In my opinion, being a class act does not mean living perfectly. It does mean doing the right thing even when it isn't easy.

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