Saturday, March 6, 2010

A brief video history of this season's NHL suspensions

The verdict came down on Maxim Lapierre today and the NHL decided his cheap shot hit from behind on Scott Nichol the other night was worth a four-game suspension.

Considering Lapierre is a first-time offender, and also considering some of the other suspensions handed out this season, I found the punishment a little harsh. But I only thought it was a bit too severe because of all the other times the NHL has come down very lightly on players this season. Four games for that dangerous hit Lapierre laid on Nichol, when looked at in a vacuum, appears more than fair. In fact, it's probably too light.

Then I figured I should see what exactly constitutes a play worthy of such a suspension this season, so I decided to look at every play that earned the perpetrator at least a three-game vacation this season. I'll let you be the judge.

Evgeni Artyukhin
He got three games for this slew-foot on Matt Niskanen:

Tuomo Ruutu
This hit from behind on Darcy Tucker earned him three games:

Curtis Glencross
He blindsided Chris Drury, who didn't have the puck, and got three games for the effort:

Georges Laraque
The former Habs pacifist got five games for this nasty knee-on-knee hit on Niklas Kronwall:

Daniel Carcillo
The Flyers enforcer received four games - the same number as Lapierre - for this sucker punch on Matt Bradley:

Cam Janssen
A repeat offender, Janssen got five game for this hit on poor Matt Bradley, who didn't have the puck when he got nailed by the Blues enforcer:

UPDATE (1:05 p.m.) Mike Green
When I decided to do this comparison, I just knew I would forget one. Thanks to commenter Abram for pointing this out. The elbow to the head of Michael Frolik netted Green a three-game suspension.

Maxim Lapierre
Now here's Lapierre's hit on Nichol:

Now I'm not condoning what Lapierre did, not by a longshot, but when looked at in this context was his hit worse than Ruutu's on Tucker? Or was it the equivalent of Carcillo's sucker punch? I'm not sure, but to me, it looks like it's the only play among this group that was not pre-meditated. Maybe Glencross' hit on Drury is the exception there, only because it looked like Drury was about to receive a pass.

The most common sentence handed out by the league this season, by far, has been two games. Here's a little sampling of some of the acts that warranted a two-game suspension.

James Wisniewski
Hits Shane Doan with an elbow to the head:

James Neal
Hit from behind on Derek Dorsett

Patrick Kaleta
Hit from behind on Jared Ross

Alexander Ovechkin
A knee-on-knee hit on Tim Gleason

Ed Jovanovski
An elbow to the face of John Tavares

Andy Sutton
Hit from behind on Pascal Dupuis

There are three hits from behind there that warranted only a two-game suspension, and I have trouble understanding how Lapierre's hit was TWICE as bad as any of those. Or that it was worse than the three-game sentences given to Ruutu and Artyukhin above.

If only the NHL had been serious about actually disciplining its players from the very start of the season, this kind of a comparative analysis would be unnecessary. Lapierre would get, say, six games for his dirty hit and it would be consistent with the 4-8 game suspensions the NHL handed out for all these incidents.

Unfortunately, that's not the case. It just appears to me that the league has decided, all of a sudden, to stop handing out slaps on the wrist for dangerous behaviour on the ice. And Lapierre is the one being made an example of.


V said...

If making an example of Lapierre helps cut down on bad decisions like his hit/push on Nichol, good. Give him eight games if it helps.

If this is a first step in getting serious with hits like this, good. Maybe the league is setting a new bar for this nonsense. If so, it hasn't come a minute too soon.

As for the video comparison, thanks. In my view, it confirms that his suspension is appropriate and he got what he had coming.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the video comparison.
I have to say that Chris Lee is a horrendous ref. there was a play in the game where Plekanec was face down on the ice, the San Jose Player, ripped off his helmet and proceded to knock pleky's face in to the ice three times, no call at all, not even reviewed. This league had better start being consistent or they are going to lose fans...

Anonymous said...

This just demonstrates once again how horrific the refereeing in the NHL has been this year. It really is time for the league to decide to have a professional standard for its officials. That has to start with the admission that they have a serious problem, I think the need to dismiss the referee in chief and then they need to do what several other leagues have done, which is retrain the officials over the summer. The officiating is the worst part of the game right now.

Abram said...

Nice survey of suspensions. You could also add this Mike Geen elbow on Michael Frolik at the end of January that netted Green a three-game suspension:

Anonymous said...

Wow, this comparison speaks for itself. Four games for Lapierre touching Nichols is ridiculous.

Mike said...

To be honest, I didn't think Lapierre did anything wrong. He was clearly trying to box Nichol out of the slot but Nichol, unfortunately, was off balance. It was merely an unfortunate coincidence but by no means a dirty hit.

When scrutinizing a violent play in hockey, you have to consider whose actions led to the injury. A truly dirty hit is dangerous regardless of what the victim does. But if a routine hockey play becomes dangerous because of the victim's actions, it is unfair to call it dirty.

Not every unfortunate play deserves a suspension.

Anonymous said...

Habs don't realy have to go look somewhere else to see how "neutral" referees are. Here is hit on Kostistyn after that hit Andrei was injured for 10 weeks, no penalty was given and no suspension. GJ league for you double-standrads.

Anonymous said...

I disagree with the suspension of 4 games. It was a two game suspension. I watched every single one of these hits from this year, and it makes no sense to me how Lap. comes out of this as the player who is penalized the most. You can see what he thought was happening as the puck comes back into play from off the post and Lap. is trying to take position on the puck. Defiantly a suspension was needed, but 4 games was ridiculous!

Anonymous said...

Were any of these guys giggling on the bench after nearly ending a guys life? Well, Laps was, the guy is a goof and every player in the league knows it.

Anonymous said...

Most amazing part might be that the Shark;s announcer clearly has no idea what boarding is.

habssuck said...

habs suck and so does this joke!

u still suck

Anonymous said...

Typical Habs fan...this was not premeditated?? Either you need glasses or need to have the ones you wear corrected.

kyleroussel said...

I agree with Arpon - I have no problem with the 4 games in a vacuum. But given the other token suspensions handed out this year, Campbell is way off with 4 games to Lapierre.

I also wonder how he decided to give Boogaard 2 games for his knee on knee when he gave Laraque 5 games for his?

I'm not going to say that the league is out to get the Habs, but Campbell's "Wheel of Justice" is clearly out of whack.

History of video games said...

Interesting article. I love the look of the Stalker-games, and I would really love to see the GSC-team do a Fallout-game. They do post-apocalyptic right.