Red and Black Hockey
by David Lee on 03/15/10 at 05:18 AM ET
By now, we’ve all seen the “push” from behind that Alexander Ovechkin delivered upon Brian “Soupy” Campbell on Sunday. Ovechkin received five for boarding, a game misconduct and an automatic ejection. Campbell received a broken clavicle and broken ribs and will miss the remainder of the season. It’s also believed that he has suffered a grade 2 concussion. This is Ovechkin’s third game misconduct of the season and his second for boarding, but contrary to public opinion, it does NOT carry a mandatory suspension. We will, though, get to see what Colin Campbell is made of after playing his “consistency” card last week.
On November 25, Ovechkin was hit with a boarding major and game misconduct for his hit on Buffalo’s Patrick Kaleta. Kaleta was not seriously injured, and Ovechkin was not suspended. On November 30, he was given a kneeing major and a game misconduct. Gleason was not injured badly, and Ovechkin was dealt a two game suspension. Today, he was dealt his second boarding major of the season, and his third game misconduct in total. People are quick to point out a section of rule 23.2 which reads, in part:
In regular League games, any player who incurs a total of three (3) game misconduct penalties in the “General Category” and exclusive of other designated categories, shall be suspended for the next League game of his team.
The problem with that is that only one of his game misconduct penalties have been in the “General Category”, which includes kneeing and sixteen other infractions. So 23.2 doesn’t come into play here.
People also quickly point out a section of rule 23.5, which reads:
In regular League games, any player who incurs a total of two (2) game misconduct penalties for stick-related infractions, Boarding - Rule 42, or Checking from Behind - Rule 44, shall be suspended automatically for the next League game of his team.
It’s not quite that simple, either, because further down in that rule, it reads:
When a player has played in 41 consecutive regular League games without being assessed a boarding and/or a checking from behind major and a game misconduct according to Rules 42 and 44, he will have the previous game misconduct penalties removed from his current record. They will remain a part of his historical record.
Ovechkin played in EXACTLY 41 games between the Kaleta incident and the Campbell incident, so he just barely made sure that the automatic suspension didn’t come into play. It seems crazily coincidental to me.
After the Kaleta incident, Ovechkin refused to take responsibility for his reckless play. He said he wasn’t going to change his style of play, he defended the hit, and he complained about the officiating. After the Gleason incident, he did more of the same. This is just the things that have occurred this season, but it’s been more of the same over the course of his career. Reckless play and a complete disregard for the health and safety of the other players. This time, it was no different. He complained after the game that he didn’t deserve the misconduct penalty. Instead of accepting blame for the situation, he repeatedly said “I push him and he fell bad”
Since he just barely escapes the mandatory suspension, it will be all on Colin Campbell. Last week, when he didn’t suspend Matt Cooke for elbowing and ending the season of Marc Savard, he pointed to an incident where Mike Richards wasn’t suspended for elbowing David Booth in a similar incident. Campbell said that there has to be some consistency with the supplemental discipline. Most fans around the league were outraged by the lack of suspension and also by Campbell’s ridiculous play of the “consistency” card. We all know that there has never been anything even remotely resembling consistency in his rulings.
Since he played that card, though, he’s put himself in a strange spot. He’s going to have to play it again, even if it means suspending a superstar. Two weeks ago, Max Lapierre of the Canadiens got a four game ban after boarding Scott NIchol of the Sharks. Unless Campbell wants a riot on his hands, he’s going to have to hand Ovechkin at the very least an identical four game suspension. It could be more if he takes into consideration the extent of Soupy‘s injuries, Ovechkin’s history of reckless play, and Ovechkin’s pledge to keep playing recklessly.
The Capitals have already situated themselves well enough, and they’re a good enough team that it wouldn’t impact their playoff picture if #8 was forced to sit down for five, ten or the rest of the regular season.
My guess? Five games.
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David Lee is a restaurant manager with an unused degree in political science. He can be found at Carolina Hurricanes games, Scrabble tournaments and indie-rock shows. Sometimes, all in the same day.