by PuckStopsHere on 05/09/09 at 02:25 AM ET
The NHL has given a surprising number of suspensions out so far in the playoffs. There have been suspensions to Daniel Carcillo, Donald Brashear, Milan Lucic and John Tortorella. The underlying philosophy behind the suspensions has been to show an apparent tough face by strongly dealing with goons and marginal players, but to not appear to decide any playoff series by punishing the stars who are most important to their team. That policy will be tested after the knee-on-knee hit Alexander Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals gave to Sergei Gonchar of the Pittsburgh Penguins tonight. Gonchar left the game with a knee injury and is questionable for the rest of the series.
The Washington(/Pittsburgh series is tied at two games each. Washington would suffer a major blow if they lost the services of their top scorer Alexander Ovechkin, who is often regarded as the best player in the game today. Pittsburgh has suffered a huge blow if they lose Sergei Gonchar, their top defenceman, for any long period of time.
Can the NHL suspend a superstar in the playoffs when it could likely decide a series? My guess is no. Would the NHL suspend a lesser player if he had done exactly what Ovechkin did? My guess is yes. We are seeing the NHL’s suspension policy exposed for its preferential treatment of star players. I don’t think Alexander Ovechkin will see a suspension for injuring Sergei Gonchar and he probably should.
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