I know a lot of you just don't want it to be true, and that's why you're trying to blame the victim when discussing Michael Cammalleri's momentary lapse of reason Saturday night in Quebec City.
I've heard via Twitter and through conversations with friends and people I don't even know that Nino Niderreiter got what he deserved for attempting to decapitate Cammalleri with a blindside hit.
The problem I have with that argument - and it's a major one - is that the hit Niederreiter laid on Cammalleri was clean. He made no contact with Cammalleri's head, as far as I can see, and when that's the case a blindside hit like that is still legal, particularly when Cammalleri has just released the puck as he did Saturday night.
Why don't you judge for yourself?
Watch that hit a few times and tell me whether or not Niederreiter actually made contact with Cammalleri's head. I really don't think so.
If that's the case, who cares what he was trying to do? If we start doling out penalties or suspensions based on perceived intent, how big of a can of worms does that open up? If someone falls and his stick comes up and hits nothing, does that merit a high-sticking penalty because you can perceive that maybe he swung his stick intentionally in the hope of taking someone's eye out? How about when someone lines up an opposing player, charges after him, but misses? It happens at least four or five times a game, so do we penalize each of those plays because the player was attempting to commit charging, but simply failed?
The answer is no, and frankly, I don't know how anyone can honestly say that Niederreiter was trying to hit Cammalleri's head but missed. If Neiderreiter, listed at 6-foot-2, wanted to elbow the 5-foot-9 Cammalleri in the head, I think he would have done so. Instead, what he did was hit him in the shoulder with his own shoulder. He laid a bodycheck. Yes, it was lateral and met all the criteria for the new rule against blindside hits except for one crucial aspect - he didn't hit Cammalleri in the head.
So Cammalleri is clearly upset, and he loses it. While watching the sequence, try to think to yourself at what point Cammalleri could have stopped himself, could have said this is a nothing game that's already been decided and I'm a veteran guy who is important to my team. Just watch:
I'm sorry, but Cammalleri had at least three opportunities to stop himself before laying the two-hander to the back of Niederreiter's skate. There was the initial hit in retaliation, then the brutally dangerous jab in the face with the stick, then another cross-check, and then he slashed him Bobby Clarke styles.
You want to talk about intent? Cammalleri had a blatantly obvious intent in each of those instances, and he executed.
That kind of stick work simply can't be tolerated, and I truly believe that if Cammalleri himself wasn't the perpetrator, he'd agree with that statement wholeheartedly.
Monday is when Cammalleri finds out whether or not he'll miss the season-opener in Toronto, but I think it's a given that he will. I think he'd be lucky to play in Pittsburgh in Saturday as well.
And he has no one to blame but himself.
P.S. I know I haven't been very active on here lately but I'm still trying to nail down a very exciting development for The Daily Hab-it that I hope to be able to announce to everyone this week. Meanwhile, I'll be in Toronto covering the season-opener for NHL.com on Thursday and couldn't be more giddy about my first hockey game at the ACC. I'll be posting on Twitter throughout the trip and blogging as well.
It just remains to be seen if that blogging will be appearing here or someplace else. Stay tuned.