The distinction made by Joe Pelletier in the post below is, in my opinion, the central issue in the recent suspension debate. Namely: until the league distinguishes unambiguously between intent-to-injure and recklessness, between unsportsmanlike acts of violence and what Pelletier calls “hockey plays gone awry”, there is no way to make heads or tails out of the league’s suspension policy.
The NHL’s decision to suspend Raffi Torres for 25 games is laudable yet mind boggling.
On one hand it is exactly the strong message needed to be delivered to a habitual offender like Raffi Torres. He hits to hurt, and that is wrong. He attempts to do it within what now passes as the confines of the game. Those definitions are a big part of the problem.[...]
25 games for a hockey play gone wrong? Aaron Rome’s 4 game Stanley Cup Final ban was bad enough. The key here being both were hockey plays. Yes, in both cases the victim was seriously hurt. But at least both plays were routine hockey plays, albeit plays that were poorly timed or executed. A fraction of a second separates what Torres did and Chris Neil’s devastating but acceptably clean hit on Brian Boyle.
Shea Weber drove Henrik Zetterberg’s head into the glass with the clear intent to injure his head. Duncan Keith assaulted Daniel Sedin, concussing him and causing him to miss a month and jeopardize his team’s playoff chances. He got a mere 5 games for that [...]. [...] [Both] were non-hockey plays [with] clear intent to injure.
I am all for the NHL suspending a long time offender like Raffi Torres for 25 games. [...] But players who purposely intend to an injure another player need to be dealt with the most severely of all – whether they actually do hurt them or not.
This all keeps coming back to the Weber non-suspension. The [...] NHL screwed that up so royally that they [are] hard to take seriously.
After you’ve book-marked Pelletier’s site Greatest Hockey Legends, check out these posts: