Thursday, March 11, 2010

Kerrzy’s Notebook: The Wheel of Justice Revisited

On the very same day that the NHL general managers announced their idea for a rule change addressing headshots in hockey, the league reminded us of the other problem it has: the “Wheel of Justice.”

NHL Senior Vice President of Hockey Operations Colin Campbell followed up the GM’s headshot recommendation by telling reporters that Pittsburgh’s Matt Cooke, who gave Boston’s Marc Savard a grade-two concussion with a blindside hit last Sunday, would not face suspension.

Why? Campbell said the ruling was “based on consistency involving similar incidents,” at which point I rolled my eyes and fired up YouTube.

Before we even get started on the video evidence, lets discuss the level of consistency the NHL has shown when it comes to headshots this season.

In late October, Philly’s Mike Richards put Florida’s David Booth out of action for 45 games with a blindside hit and wasn’t suspended. About a month later, Matt Cooke leveled the Rangers’ Artem Anisimov in a hit that’s practically identical to the one involving Marc Savard…and guess what? He was suspended for two games.

So here we have two hits where players were stretchered off the ice and missed/will miss significant time (assuming Savard is done for the season, as some reports have indicated), and one hit where the player got up on his own and played in his team’s next game.

Amazingly, the latter is the one where a suspension was handed out. Even more amazingly, that makes Cooke a repeat offender for the exact type of hit he laid of Savard – yet the league bases their decision on the fact that Richards wasn’t suspended. That makes no sense.

Further to that point, when the league talks about consistency, they seem to forget the handful of suspensions they’ve dished out this season for pretty similar incidents.

For example: Calgary’s Curtis Glencross on Chris Drury of the NY Rangers. This blindside hit in early November landed Glencross a three game suspension.

Later that month Philly’s Danny Briere smoked Colorado’s Scott Hannan right after the Avalanche defenseman took a shot on goal and scored. Briere leaves his feet, but I think it was the blindside aspect of it that hit that caused the league to sit Briere down for two games.

Here we have an interesting one involving Mike Green of the Washington Capitals. Florida’s Cory Stillman hits Green from his blind spot and later in the play, Green evens things up by doing the same thing to Michael Frolik…just with a little more elbow. Green was suspended for three games.

In closing, I’d just like to reiterate that the NHL has punished hits like the one Matt Cooke laid on Marc Savard with suspensions earlier in the season – including one on Cooke himself for basically the same thing…which makes him a repeat offender.

The NHL can add all the rules it wants to try and take headshots out of the game, but until guys like Colin Campbell take it seriously, nothing will change and eventually, someone won’t get up after a hit like that.

Agree? Disagree? Let me know!

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