The NHL once again proves to the world that it’s a joke. Tom Kostopoulos was suspended 3 games starting from today for his hit on Mike Van Ryn. Van Ryn, acquired from the Panthers this year in exchange for Bryan McCabe, suffered facial lacerations, a broken nose and bone, and a concussion.
A year ago, Randy Jones hit Patrice Bergeron from behind along the end boards and Bergeron ended up missing the entire season with a concussion. The suspension? 2 games. I’ve seen the replays, and to me the hits look practically identical. A race to the puck at the end of the ice with 2 players going ahead full speed doesn’t usually end up looking too good. Mike Brophey certainly agrees and calls for harsher punishments because the lack of respect players have for each other these days. Brophey’s not directly pointing any fingers, but I think we all know where this is going.
Colin Campbell and the discipline office are a joke. If the length of a suspension is dependent on the act itself, this doesn’t make sense. If it’s dependent on the resulting injury, it makes even less sense. The fact that it’s only a one game difference makes it even more confusing. Had Kostopoulos not been suspended, or even been suspended longer than 3 games, it might’ve made more sense. There has been a complete lack of consistency when handing out suspensions, and I agree with Brophey – don’t be scared to hand out harsher punishments. A 3 game suspension is nothing over the course of an 82-game season and $900k salary (Kostopoulos loses roughly $33k).
OTR put Gary Bettman on the spot on the topic, and he had this to say:
“You know, it’s interesting to me that when we came back from the work stoppage a lot of our fans complained that we had taken the physicality out of the game by opening up the speed and skill. We didn’t do that – hitting is actually up. There are more body checks in the game than we had before the work stoppage. But if you say you can’t have contact with the head, you are going to reduce the amount of checking in the game and you are going to change the way the game is played. We don’t like any concussions. We don’t like any hits to the head, but before we run down this road, think about what the consequences to the game are going to be.”
And what are those consequences, Gary? More importantly, what are you doing to protect the players? Obviously there’s a certain amount of responsibility the players hold, but it seems like the league is preaching negligence. Bettman claims he’s opposed to change, but I guess the lockout was all for naught and NHL hockey hasn’t changed post-lockout. But then, of course, I realized the answer:
” …it’s not a question of logic.”
EDIT Nov. 12: Looks like the league is making noise already, dropping Brenden Morrow‘s suspension (and rightfully so) for instigating against the Kings and reviewing Jarkko Ruutu‘s high hit against the Habs.