The acute sense of self-awareness weighing down on Mark Bell right now must be stifling. John Ferguson Jr. must be feeling claustrophobic as well. It can't get much worse for your reputation as a general manager of an NHL team than when it's announced a player you recently acquired in a trade is likely going to be sent away to jail for 6 months at the end of next season:
"Bell pleaded guilty in a San Jose courtroom Tuesday to charges of drunk driving causing injury and hit and run.
The Leaf forward, picked up in the Vesa Toskala trade with San Jose in June, will be sentenced to six months in a Santa Clara ,California county jail to be served at the end of this upcoming season.
Official sentencing will be in October."
The worrisome thing for all concerned, including Leafs fans, is that Bell may not have hit rock bottom. You might think that such an announcement would jolt a person into clear-eyed and rational decision-making. But alcoholism (I'm not suggesting that Bell has been clinically designated as such, though his past definitely suggests a chronic problem) is not a shrewd, lucid beast and steers its booze-soaked victims as far away from rationality as possible.
With bile and self-loathing percolating in his guts, Bell's self-conscious mind may be plotting the next step in his self-destruction. Here's hoping he sorts himself out.