NHL Suspensions Bewildering
Much has been made over the past week about the suspension following the “game” between the New York Islanders and Pittsburgh Penguins. After a game filled with 346 penalty minutes and10 ejections, just three players were suspended.
The Islanders’ Trevor Gillies and Matt Martin were suspended for nine and four games, respectively, and Penguins’ forward Erik Godard was suspended for 10 games. The Islanders were also fined $100,000 as a team.
Martin sucker punched the Penguins’ Maxime Talbot early in the game in a classless move that was just the beginning. The punch and ensuing “fight” (Martin just pounded the shocked Talbot as he lay helpless on the ice) epitomized the game. How exactly does Martin only receive a four game suspension?!
This wasn’t just a tiny mistake. It was purposeful and premeditated and has no business in the sport. It should have been a minimum 20 game suspension and I would have liked to have seen Martin sitting out the rest of the year.
Gillies’s cheap shot was similar, but worse. In the 3rd period, Gillies ran after Eric Tangradi, struck him in the head with an elbow and continued mauling the forward as he lay on the ice. As Gillies skated away, he mocked the concussed Penguin. It was truly disgraceful.
But Gillies only received nine games!! He shouldn’t be playing hockey again this year whatsoever, but the NHL brass just can’t get anything right.
Godard received his 10 games for leaving the bench to save his goalie, who was in a lopsided fight with the Islander’s Michael Haley. Leaving the bench is an automatic 10 game suspension so the NHL does not have much sway there, but there’s a clear problem. How can the NHL justify that rule if it only punishes the cheap shot artists with small suspensions?
Now, Pittsburgh is the last team that should be complaining. The Penguins’ Matt Cooke is the ultimate cheap shot player. He goes on the ice to injure and hurt opponents. There’s no excuse for him being in the league at all.
But Cooke is just another example of the incompetence of the NHL. Cooke made two dirty plays in back-to-back games last week when he struck the Washington Capitals Alexander Ovechkin in a knee-on-knee hit and then the next game, he slammed Columbus Blue Jackets’ defenseman Fedor Tyutin from behind into the boards.
Both deserved lengthy suspensions, but Cooke received just four games for the second hit.
How can the NHL possibly defend this? Cooke is a notorious dirty player, the dirtiest player before. He’s been suspended multiple times before. He should have been suspended for the remainder of the year. If you add it all up, he probably shouldn’t be in the league anymore.
But the NHL refuses to clean up their sport. Cooke can continue injuring opponents, because he knows he’ll received a maximum of a four game suspension.
And now the NHL has set another precedent: you can call up goons to viciously and illegally attack your opponent and they won’t get lengthy suspensions. When the playoffs roll around, why not just have your worst player break the leg of your opponent’s top player? That will certainly help you win and your worst player will even be back by game five.
Sound like a cheap way of playing? Well, the NHL seems to think that that punishment fits the crime and if the they don’t do something soon, it may become a reality.