Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Suspension equity

Penguins winger Jarkko Ruutu, who plays an abrasive style of game, also approves of the suspensions but adds a caveat.

"My thing is that it has to be fair for everybody," he said. "If the bar is set where it is, it should be every player — whether it's a star or a plugger. As long as it's fair I have no problem (with stiff suspensions)."
This quote appears right at the very end of a fine piece by the fellows at CP, which is fair enough given all of the NHL voices in support of the lengthy recent suspensions handed down by the league.

But Ruutu's point is, in my opinion, the most important one voiced here, and really can't been said enough. Until the league will suspend stars, and even just 'good' players, in these kind of incidents, the crackdown means diddly. This is a league with a long, long history of soft punishments, but you only need to look back to Gary Suter's ridiculous crosscheck on Paul Kariya in 1998 — and the resultant four-game suspension — to see one instance where a Jesse Boulerice-like faux pas was met with a very different ban.

Sure, we've evolved since then, and stick-to-head incidents could even be (thankfully) deemed 'rare' these days. But four games?

Even during last year's playoffs, we saw one of the league's stars, Chris Pronger, suspended twice (!) for two separate one-game stints. Both dangerous plays that, when weighed against the sort of suspensions dealt to Steve Downie and Boulerice, weren't penalized nearly enough.

It's really only a matter of time before a big name gets caught.

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11 Comments:

At 6:32 PM, October 16, 2007, Blogger Earl Sleek said...

Even during last year's playoffs, we saw one of the league's stars, Chris Pronger, suspended twice (!) for two separate one-game stints. Both dangerous plays that, when weighed against the sort of suspensions dealt to Steve Downie and Boulerice, weren't penalized nearly enough.

I'll agree with you on principle here, but for sure there were other factors involved with Pronger--one major one (and blame whoever you want for this) was that he was not penalized by the on-ice referees either time.

For sure Pronger got off very light for his crimes, but I don't know if his elbow-hits are great comparables for Downie or Boulerice.

 
At 6:36 PM, October 16, 2007, Blogger Earl Sleek said...

I should add that on the whole, though, I totally agree with Ruutu's quote, though. One standard for everyone!

 
At 6:38 PM, October 16, 2007, Anonymous ken said...

Yeah, the Gary Suter one was horrendous.

So was the Claude Lemieux's three-game suspension for slamming Kris Draper 10 years ago or so.

Double standards for sure.

 
At 6:39 PM, October 16, 2007, Anonymous pete said...

I'm reminded of Ovechkin nearly taking off the head of, i want to say Briere, on a check at the boards last year.

I called for a suspension then.

 
At 7:06 PM, October 16, 2007, Anonymous Nicky Robinson said...

One thing the league is lousy at is balancing regular season vs playoff suspensions. Like it or not, 1 regular season game does NOT equal one playoff game. So while I agree Pronger's 2 1-game suspensions were too light, what WOULD have bene appropriate? 2 games? 4 games? Certainly not 20 (if nothing else, thos hits were not up there with Downie and Boulerice).

 
At 7:41 PM, October 16, 2007, Blogger Bruce said...

Pronger's second suspension should have been, at *bare* minimum, 2 games, twice as much for a second offence.

In light of the heavy suspensions given Simon, Downie, and Boulerice, the 20-game suspension of Todd Bertuzzi seems mighty light. It was the worst of all in both intent (three week's meditation including uttered threats) and result (the breaking of a man's neck and the ending of his career). But Bertuzzi was a big-money star, whose suspension was evidently rated at more $$$ per game, therefore fewer games. It was wrong then, and it remains a terrible precedent for an inappropriate and inadequate sanction.

 
At 7:51 PM, October 16, 2007, Anonymous cupster33 said...

Anybody see duvie westcotts check to scott parkers face? colin handed down a whopping 1000 fine.

 
At 8:37 PM, October 16, 2007, Blogger Shane Giroux said...

Not only suspending stars/known players but suspending for actions against non-stars/unknown/gigantic players

Scott Parker ate a stick on Saturday night but since he's a 6'5" behemoth, rather than going down he had to be stopped from tearing someone's head off.

All Westcott received was a $1,000 fine.

 
At 9:22 AM, October 17, 2007, Anonymous Marcus said...

Is there a video of the Suter crosschek?

 
At 10:34 AM, October 17, 2007, Anonymous Keith said...

I'm sorry, but when it comes to accountability, Jarko Ruutu is just about the worst possible spokesman, no matter how accurate the message may be. It would be like having George Bush campaign for effective leadership.

 
At 11:20 AM, October 17, 2007, Blogger Rob said...

Can't find the Suter/Kariya hit but for fun here's Suter hacking up Lomakin in the '87 Canada Cup.

 

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