In hockey, as in life, I am a huge advocate of accountability. Everyone should be held accountable for their actions. This is something the NHL has a hard time finding a balance on. Brendan Shanahan did a respectable job in his time standing guard over NHL player safety, but more needs to be done. Head shots, knee shots, groin shots: they need to stop. It's a good way to end someone's career or, to be frank, ruin someone's family plans. So while the questions stand regarding the removal of the instigator rule so players can police themselves on the ice, I would like to suggest this: a rule that allows the players to police themselves away from the ice. The idea is in the early stages, but let me explain.
Each team selects a representative. Those representatives select a group of five of their peers who will serve as overseers. When a hearing is to take place - for Matt Cooke for example - the representatives are to weigh in on a ruling (fine, suspension, etc.). The two teams involved are not to have a say in the actual ruling, but can state their case. In the event that one or both of the teams have a representative that is an overseer, two alternate representatives who would have been previously selected will step in. For the playoffs, the 14 representatives who are not playing will serve as the panel and will select their own overseers. What does this do?
This puts the decision in the hands of the people who are in the game. People who have at one point or another had first hand experience with the subject matter. By having all 30 teams or again, 14 non-playoff teams, in on the ruling will ensure that a single team is not bullied by a single representative. The team reps can discuss the situation, submit their suggestions for ruling and the overseers carry out what they believe is a fair penalty. If they want stickwork out of the game then maybe they agree Lucic gets a game instead of a measly $5,000 fine. That's chump change to Lucic. It was almost worse than not giving him anything. If the players want to send a message about late hits like the one from Seabrook then they make their ruling. In the case of Matt Cooke - who time and again is voted amongst the most hated players in the NHL - the players can finally rule to really make an example of him. He's been suspended and fined repeatedly, ended Marc Savard's career and very easily could have ended Tyson Barrie's career in Game 3. To be fair the league is typically ridiculed regardless of it's ruling. That's why this decision should be in the hands of the players who are playing with this atmosphere for a living. It would hard to argue the ruling of the players.
Sure, it's easy to poke holes in this right now and ask how to get all 30 players together at the same time. The simple response is this: just like the league does, the players set a phone hearing. If you don't get all 30 reps on the line at the same time then the hearing moves forward, but the players know how important this is for their game. By putting it in their hands it's up to them to clean this game up. The fighting can stay. Hell, keep the instigator rule if you want. At the end of the day when you do something dirty you may not get jumped on the ice, but your peers will be there waiting to be your judge.