I may as well throw my two cents in about all the suspensions, deserv’d or not. At the forefront of my mind are Bobby Ryan, Raffi Torres, Chris Kunitz&Steve Downie, and Marc Staal. (I should also preface this by saying I’m currently wearing a Chris Pronger shirt, which implies I have a pretty laissez-faire attitude towards discipline.)
First, Bobby Ryan. I think two games is a fine punishment for someone without a record, though what he did was completely and totally unacceptable in every way. The best explanation I have is that he was wrapped up in the heat of the moment and, unable to kick or hit the puck away, decided to try a less direct path. Still, to stomp on someone else with your skate blade is downright disgusting. It calls to mind when Albert Haynesworth stomped on a helmetless Andre Gurode with his cleats on. You have a sharp piece of metal on your foot, man. That’s not okay.
The Torres hit, well, there’s more grey area around that. Seabrook wasn’t blindsided (though he may have been looking away) and Torres hit him in accordance with the mysterious video passed around to all the teams that showed the difference between an acceptable and an unacceptable hit to the head (was behind the net, never left his feet, etc.). The real issue here is, of course, it was Torres’ first game back from a four-game suspension due to, guess what, hitting someone in the head. Gotta ask the question: why didn’t Torres just make a play that wasn’t borderline, seeing as he has, you know, a prior record?
I’m embarrassed to say this, but I agree with… well, whoever it was still left in Around the Horn on Monday. The difference between Ryan’s stomp and Torres’ hit was a matter of honour. Hitting is a part of the game. No matter how enthusiastic you are about fighting or checking or physical play, no one will say that STOMPING ON SOMEONE IN SKATES has a place in the sport. It’s like biting, spitting, or hair-pulling — a disgusting thing to do, and anyone who does it should feel embarrassed that they did. (I should also mention that I think a well-timed fight for good cause is an honourable thing to do — if someone ran my goaltender and nobody stood up for him, I would be ashamed.)
In the case of the Marc-Staal-on-Mike-Green hit, Boudreau (aside from wanting to raise controversy and possibly take out Staal for a game, which would be delicious) was concerned because of Green’s (extremely) recent history of concussions. I don’t think you can make the argument that Staal targeted Green for any reason than that he’s one of the best players on the ice. We already know that Bruce likes to raise a media circus. Move on.
Downie gets one game for his hit on Ben Lovejoy, which is comparable to the one he previously received 20 games for. There’s really nothing to do but throw my hands up in the air and instead relate up the not-okay-but-still-amusing anecdote when our own Varly said, “he lives up to his name,” which I believe was also Varly’s first English-language pun. Our baby goaltenders grow up so fast! Anyway, though it occupies the grey area known as “behind the red line,” Downie left his feet, which is a prime indicator of an illegal hit.
In the end, this will be irrelevant, what with the Blackhawks being swept out of the first round, but I think we all agree that the issue here isn’t really this specific hit, but the utter lack of consistency among NHL punishment. Let’s spin the Colin Campbell Wheel of Justice!
A smorgasbord of links about the Torres-Seabrook hit!
From Justin Bourne
PHT on the NHL’s official explanation
Finally, the only chart you really need to see to understand how suspensions work, by, who else, Down Goes Brown.