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Special treatment for hockey star?

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bell_mark_vert[1].jpg Toronto Maple Leafs forward Mark Bell was sentenced this week to six months in jail for his drunk driving arrest in California. (Read story HERE)Yet Bell doesn't have to worry about missing a single game this upcoming NHL season - because a judge is allowing him to wait to enter the legal penalty box until the off-season.And with time off for good behaviour, Bell will likely be out in time for next year's training camp.Is this a case of Bell, a pro athlete, getting special treatment?Perhaps, but not necessarily.I've seen judges delay sentencing people to jail in a handful of cases over the years, based on the fact they were working at the time and needed to finish a job, fulfill a contract, or get their affairs in order, so to speak.In Bell's case, his employment happens to be as a multi-million dollar hockey player, which certainly gets his case far more attention than that of the average Joe.One of the key factors of jail is supposed to be rehabilitation. And judges will say that holding down a job is considered a positive step in that direction.Now, there's an obvious difference here between a hockey player like Bell and a common citizen which will no doubt have some gritting their teeth.Bell's skills likely wouldn't diminish to any degree based on serving his sentence now, and one would expect he would be just as employable once he's released, despite the conviction hanging over him.Joe Citizen, meanwhile, might have a much harder time explaining to his boss why he can't come to work for the next six months. And an even harder time finding someone to trust him enough to give him another chance when he's out.In that sense, the Mark Bells of the world are getting a much easier ride from the courts.What do you think? Post your thoughts below, and go to my website HERE and cast your vote in my new Jury Poll.

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About Mike McIntyre

Journalist, national radio show host, author, pundit and cruise director ... Mike McIntyre loves to keep busy.

Mike is the justice reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press, where he has worked since 1997. He produces and hosts the weekly talk radio show Crime and Punishment, which runs on the Corus Radio Network in several Canadian cities.

Born and bred in Winnipeg, Mike graduated from River East Collegiate and completed his journalism studies in the Creative Communications program at Red River College.

He and his wife, Chassity, have two children.

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