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NHL Suspension Policy Remains Messed Up

One of the worst things about pre-season hockey is when players get injured in the still meaningless pre-season.  This is especially bad when a player tries to make a name for himself to make a team with a cheapshot on another player.  One of the more outrageous examples of this in the recent past is Steve Downie’s 2007 pre-season boarding of Dean McAmmond, which netted the then-rookie Downie a 20 game suspension. 

Last night we had two suspendable offences.  The worst was a kneeing incident where Pittsburgh’s Brooks Orpik took out Detroit’s Johan Franzen.  Franzen is expected to be out for at least his next three games.  Orpik was given a game misconduct for the play, but as of yet no suspension.  Kneeing is always a dangerous play and in a pre-season game it is senseless.

Chicago defencemen Nick Boynton made a “throat-slashing” gesture toward Blair Jones of the Tampa Bay Lightning.  For this he got a one game suspension and that one game is a regular season game.  The fight came after Boynton hit Chris Durno knee-on-knee to provoke the fight.

The NHL has shown that a rude gesture is a worse offence than kneeing.  Kneeing is a dangerous play that can end careers.  It is especially senseless in pre-season.  Hurting players is somehow not as big a priority when it comes to suspensions.  Just keep the “throat-slashing” gestures out of hockey.

This is an attempt to make hockey into “wholesome family entertainment”.  You can feel safe that your young child can watch a game and not learn any new rude gestures.  Your young child may get to see players leave the game injured from kneeing incidents, but that is somehow more acceptable.  Does this set of priorities for suspensions make any sense?  The news - if it is news - is that we can expect another year of suspensions that don’t make much rational sense.

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Comments

The Hurricane's avatar

There is no respect anymore. For that, I blame Mr. Bettman.
Period.

Posted by The Hurricane on 09/24/10 at 03:59 AM ET

scotts0's avatar

Hurricane has a good point.  But I will also say…Orpik is a Penguin, therefore, he won’t get suspended.

Posted by scotts0 from New York on 09/24/10 at 06:37 AM ET

Avatar

The real difference between the two incidents is that Boynton’s ‘throat slash’ gesture (very poorly executed btw, and not exactly threatening when directed at a guy who just one-punch KO’d you), and Orpik’s kneeing of Franzen, is that the latter was not televised. There is no footage of it on Youtube. While I assume that the league does have video of even the untelevised pre-season games, the fact is that the Boynton incident is more embarrassing to the league than the Orpik one, because it can be shown on Sportscenter - “Oh look, and here’s an NHL goon threatening to slit someone’s throat, great example to the kids there”. See no evil, suspend no evil.

Not that it’s right of course - any attempt to injure should be severely punished, especially in preseason. But nevertheless, I think this article misses why the NHL has reacted differently in these two cases. It’s about the level of embarrassment to the league. In this light, while the suspension policy clearly isn’t consistent, or particularly transparent, there is some element of rational sense underpinning it.

Posted by fcjbencard on 09/24/10 at 08:04 AM ET

Avatar

Im honest anyone can comment on the Orpik hit without having seen it.  Homers.

Posted by callmedrw on 09/24/10 at 08:18 AM ET

yreland's avatar

Homer or not.  The refs commented for us by giving him a game misconduct.  Sorry to say, but the Penguins are not infallible.

Posted by yreland from Hockey's black hole South Carolina on 09/24/10 at 08:54 AM ET

redxblack's avatar

Defending Orpik when this isn’t his first offense is just as homerific.

Posted by redxblack from Akron Ohio on 09/24/10 at 08:54 AM ET

moocat's avatar

They showed highlights of the Pens/Wings game on the local (Det) News so they had at least the in house cameras going which is normal so fans can watch on the scoreboard so if the cameras caught that play I’m sure the NHL has seen it.

Posted by moocat on 09/24/10 at 09:05 AM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

Im honest anyone can comment on the Orpik hit without having seen it.  Homers.

Posted by callmedrw on 09/24/10 at 07:18 AM ET

So I guess you have no opinion on the Civil or Revolutionary Wars, since there’s no television footage of it, right?

First-hand accounts coming from various sources, including the Penguins radio broadcaster, the Wings’ radio broadcaster, fans in attendance, and even Franzen himself (not to mention the refs who deemed the hit egregious enough to warrant a game misconduct) all thought it was a dirty play.

This argument is stupid; there’s more than enough evidence to make a case that Orpik should be suspended for what everybody knows was a dangerous knee-on-knee collision.  I believe it wasn’t intentional, but rather a poor last-second decision.  To that, I say suspend him three games instead of ten.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 09/24/10 at 09:19 AM ET

Nathan's avatar

Okay, here it is… see my avatar? I have a billion posts on KK. Everyone knows I’m a Wings fan.

You can’t make these judgments without having seen the hit.

I am inclined to believe it was a borderline play given the quotes from Franzen and the reaction and write-ups from the game. But I’m not going to demand Orpik’s head on a stick when I haven’t even seen the play in question.

Posted by Nathan from the scoresheet! on 09/24/10 at 09:20 AM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

But I’m not going to demand Orpik’s head on a stickJ effrey Dahmer go to prison when I haven’t even seen the play in question him murder anybody.

Posted by Nathan from Jonny Ericsson’s ice cream truck on 09/24/10 at 08:20 AM ET

I fixed that for the same logic.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 09/24/10 at 09:47 AM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

Damnit.  You get the point.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 09/24/10 at 09:47 AM ET

pensfan29's avatar

Damn JJ. Even the footer is crossed out lol

Posted by pensfan29 on 09/24/10 at 09:56 AM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

Yeah, sorry.  That’s why I rarely play with strike tags

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 09/24/10 at 10:10 AM ET

Paul's avatar

Strike fixed.

Posted by Paul from Motown Area on 09/24/10 at 10:16 AM ET

Mandingo's avatar

They showed highlights of the Pens/Wings game on the local (Det) News so they had at least the in house cameras going which is normal so fans can watch on the scoreboard so if the cameras caught that play I’m sure the NHL has seen it destroyed the video and had all the non-Penguin-fan witnesses murdered.

Posted by moocat on 09/24/10 at 08:05 AM ET

Posted by Mandingo from The Garage on 09/24/10 at 10:57 AM ET

Osrt's avatar

There were other incidents besides Franzen/ Oprik that TPSH points to that are worth discussing. No, it’s not new-news that the NHL does not have a consistent suspension policiy, but it’s still tragically idiotic.

The fact that this is preseason should *increase* the suspension time, especially for roster players. If it’s a kid trying to earn a spot, sorry, you’re suspended for X amount of presesaon games, or the entire preseason games all together. You’re playing in the best league, so play like it.

What would be more interesting than a fight as retribution, or “policing,” is an NHLPA instituted suspension. Put together a core of high-end retired players and make them the “disciplinary” committee. Include an appeals process etc., but come together on issues like this. There is no reason to end, or severely damage, a fellow player’s career when you know what it takes to even make it to the NHL let alone be successful there.

Money from the suspension goes to the NHLPA’s pension fund.

Posted by Osrt on 09/24/10 at 11:30 AM ET

Nathan's avatar

Damnit.  You get the point.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 09/24/10 at 08:47 AM ET

Not the same thing, and c’mon J.J., you’re way to smart to make that argument. You can’t just equate a collision in a hockey game to serial killers murdering and eating people. Or you can. Because you did. But it’s kinda insane to compare those two things.

All I’m saying is that I personally did not see the hit, so I’m not going to freak out and demand punishment.

If there were people and pundits all around the league that DID see the hit writing about how brutal it was, then I’d say absolutely Orpik should be suspended. But to this point I feel like I’ve only heard it from Franzen and the Wings’ broadcasters. I’ve got no reason to think they’re lying, but you have to admit they both have a little bias.

Posted by Nathan from the scoresheet! on 09/24/10 at 12:21 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

Not the same thing, and c’mon J.J., you’re way to smart to make that argument. You can’t just equate a collision in a hockey game to serial killers murdering and eating people. Or you can. Because you did. But it’s kinda insane to compare those two things.

Granted, it’s a comparison using an extreme, but you could simplify it down a ton and it still makes a good point.

Forget Dahmer, use an elementary school instead.  Teacher sends a third-grader to the office saying that little Brooks and Johan were out on the playground and the situation got a little rough.  Brooks tripped Johan and the teacher gives him a timeout for the rest of recess and sends a report to the principal.  I would feel comfortable as Johan’s dad with calling the principal and asking what he’s planning on doing to make sure that Brooks learned his lesson, expecting a detention out of the situation.  I don’t have any video evidence of that either, but the teacher saw fit to send Brooks to the office for what he did.

Every bit I’ve read is that Orpik stuck his knee out at the last minute after being beaten.  Even Johan Franzen’s report said that.  I have no reason to believe that’s not the case.  My point is that I don’t need to see video evidence of that happening to believe it happened.  That, alone is reason enough to warrant a suspension in my mind.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 09/24/10 at 12:38 PM ET

PaulinMiamiBeach's avatar

If there were people and pundits all around the league that DID see the hit writing about how brutal it was, then I’d say absolutely Orpik should be suspended. But to this point I feel like I’ve only heard it from Franzen and the Wings’ broadcasters.

then you’ve heard/read it from fewer people than others in this thread, and have less of a right to an opinion (by your logic) than they do.

Posted by PaulinMiamiBeach on 09/24/10 at 02:03 PM ET

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imageThe Puck Stops Here was founded during the 2004/05 lockout as a place to rant about hockey. The original site contains over 1000 posts, some of which were also published on FoxSports.com.

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