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Sometimes saying sorry just doesn't cut it

Pittsburgh Penguins right wing Arron Asham (45) celebrates with defenseman Ben Lovejoy (6) after scoring against the Tampa Bay Lightning during the second period in Game 4 of a first-round NHL Stanley Cup playoff series on Wednesday, April 20, 2011, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

Chris O'Meara/AP

Good people sometimes do bad things, everyone has moments they'd like to have back.

Take Arron Asham, who has been universally loved in every hockey dressing room he's ever pitched up in (or such is the impression you get from talking to his current and former teammates).

Asham has of course apologized for his ghastly fight celebration on Thursday night - there was the 'he's out' gesture and the far more egregious and disgusting 'go to sleep' pantomime that immediately followed. Good for him for standing up, there can no doubt as to his sincerity.

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Rubbing it in after a dust-up is nothing new (there is a constant thread from the Broad Street Bullies through Tie Domi to Brad Marchand's dusting-off-the-hands move in the Stanley Cup Finals).

But don't people like Don Cherry rip guys for celebrating after fights? Doesn't this violate some sort of unwritten rule?

Goading and show-boating are defining characteristics of the modern sporting era, the simple fact is that a certain segment of the audience laps it up. They'll continue to do so, and players and television will continue to pander to them, to twist the words of H.L. Mencken slightly, no one ever went broke underestimating the tastes of the North American sports public.

It seems obvious this kind of stuff is a natural offshoot of a television highlight and YouTube-obsessed world, one can easily surmise that it's rarely punished because, hey, sports is entertainment and we're all just giving the masses what they want to see, right?

To take up my colleague Shoalts's question - it is possible to legislate some level of respect? - the NFL did away with the odious trend of throat-slashing gestures a few years back and has cracked down on excessive celebrations and taunting.

Critics blasted it as the No Fun League, but the NFL after all is still the most successful enterprise in the history of sports and faces no credible challengers, no matter what nonsense Dana White blabbers about the all-conquering UFC.

So if the NHL wants to walk the walk of a big-time sports league it needs to sort itself out on this kind of stuff, and pronto.

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Of course, the NHL could also try and ape the WWE, but has anyone at the league office looked at World Wrestling Entertainment's financials lately? How's that working out?

By all accounts, Asham isn't a bad person, and he's far from the only one importing bloodsport-style showmanship, but this is yet another pivot point for the NHL, and it says here old Ash is the guy who will pay the freight.

Sometimes saying sorry just doesn't cut it.

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