Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Inconsistency Rules the Day in the NHL

Last night, the Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings played a hockey game. A good one, in fact.

But it was marred by this Todd Bertuzzi elbow to the head of Blackhawks' forward Ryan Johnson.

The on-ice officials got it right. They gave him Bertuzzi game misconduct. Good for them. Oh the times, they are a changing. However slowly.

But today, after reviewing the hit, the NHL decided not to suspend Bertuzzi for even one single game. What the ....??? This, after they suspended Matt Cooke for 10 games, plus one round of the playoffs, so potentially 17 games.

Apparently, the league feels that Bertuzzi doesn't have a history of recidivist head hunting a'la Matt Cooke, somehow overlooking Bertuzzi's 2004 sucker punch of Steve Moore. And I strongly disagree with that. I think you do, in fact, have to factor in the sum total of Bertuzzi's career.

But even if I am to grant the NHL that Bertuzzi's cheap shot on Moore was a long time ago, even if I'm going to buy into the notion that Bertuzzi is a 'clean' player now, I still believe a suspension would be in order. If you want to send a message to players and coaches that dangerous shots to the head -- particularly involving elbows being thrown -- will not be tolerated. Were I hockey's discipline czar, I would have suspended Bertuzzi for the remainder of the regular season. Perhaps longer.

The hit is dangerous. The elbow up high was unnecessary. Bertuzzi is just lucky that Johnson is okay. That was luck. Nothing more. One of these days, the league's luck is going to run out.

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