by PuckStopsHere on 06/01/09 at 01:45 AM ET
The NHL’s suspension policy of acting tough on lesser players who commit infractions and going easy on the stars who do the same thing took another hit tonight. With 19 seconds left in game two, Evgeni Malkin of the Penguins instigated a fight against Henrik Zetterberg. There is an “automatic” one game suspension of anyone who instigates a fight in the final five minutes of a game or in overtime. Since Malkin is too good a player to receive a suspension (after all Malkin is the top scorer in the playoffs), his suspension was rescinded.
The most coherent interpretation of the rule for suspensions for instigating fights at the end of the game is that you will be suspended for it, unless you are a key player to the NHL’s marketing and they want you to stay in the game. The NHL would not like to be accused of deciding who wins the Stanley Cup due to suspending a star player.
This is the second time a superstar escaped a probable suspension in these playoffs, as Alexander Ovechkin put Sergei Gonchar out with a knee-on-knee hit.
The NHL’s suspension policy is to punish people of lesser importance to their team ( Daniel Carcillo, Donald Brashear, Milan Lucic and John Tortorella received playoff suspensions - but only in the earlier rounds of the playoffs) and let the superstars escape suspension-free. That calls the fairness of the whole system into question. Next year, late in a 3-1 game a player will likely instigate a fight and get suspended for a game because of it. He will be “sending a message” when the game is out of reach. He will be guilty of being not as good a player as Evgeni Malkin.
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