It appears NHL disciplinarian Colin Campbell will be taking a look at Tom Kostopoulos' hit from behind on Mike Van Ryn in Saturday night's 6-3 Habs loss to the Leafs.
I've seen the hit several times now, and I suggest you do the same before getting angry with what I'm about to say, but I feel Kostopoulos needs to be suspended for this:
I can already hear people saying that Van Ryn shouldn't have put himself in that position, that Kostopoulos had no chance to let up, but frankly I'm getting sick of that argument. Kostopoulos takes Van Ryn's head and drives it into the boards while he was completely vulnerable. It was just like Randy Jones did to Patrice Bergeron last year, and the same asinine excuses blaming Bergeron for the injury were made then as well.
It's high time these kinds of dangerous hits be eliminated from hockey. I have no reason to doubt that Kostopoulos didn't intend to hurt Van Ryn, that he was sincerely "just trying to get the puck," as he said after the game.
But you don't suspend players for intent, you suspend them for actions. And the actions of Kostopoulos, and Jones before him, need to be eliminated.
Now, the question is how long? Jones only got two games, seemingly because it was generally accepted that Bergeron deserved some degree of the blame for his own injury by turning his back on an oncoming defender. Did Van Ryn not do the same thing? Does that make the hit any less dangerous? Is Kostopoulos not the one ultimately responsible for giving Van Ryn a concussion, broken nose and broken finger?
I think five games would be a fair number that will make forecheckers and defencemen think twice before running at a guy along the boards while he's looking for the puck. I understand you're supposed to play the body first, and that should always be a fundamental philosophy of hockey, but there are times when you can choose to play the puck. This was one of those times.