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Red and Black Hockey

Walker fined, not suspended.

The NHL’s disciplinary committee handed down one of its most perplexing rulings in quite some time.  Scott Walker, was fined $2500 for his actions at the end of game five and the automatic one game suspension was rescinded.  Since the suspension wasn’t upheld, I assume that the $10k fine to Paul Maurice was also rescinded. 

This benefits the Hurricanes, but I’m bewildered by it.  My immediate thoughts during the game were that he wouldn’t face supplemental discipline, and I included that thought in my game wrap-up.  Later, when I was reminded of rule 47.22, I assumed that he would get the one game suspension but nothing else. 

For reference:  here’s the rule, verbatim:

47.22 Fines and Suspensions – Instigator in Final Five Minutes of Regulation Time (or Anytime in Overtime) - A player or goalkeeper who is deemed to be the instigator of an altercation in the final five (5) minutes of regulation time or at anytime in overtime, shall automatically be suspended for one game. The Director of Hockey Operations will review every such incident and may rescind the suspension based on a number of criteria. The criteria for the review shall include, but not limited to, the score, previous incidents, etc. The length of suspension will double for each subsequent offense. This suspension shall be served in addition to any other automatic suspensions a player may incur for an accumulation of three or more instigator penalties.

When the one-game suspension is imposed, the Coach shall be fined $10,000 – a fine that will double for each subsequent incident.

No team appeals will be permitted either verbally or in writing regarding the assessment of this automatic suspension.

I assumed that there were no “criteria” obvious to us that would cause the automatic suspension to be rescinded.  The only thing I could think of is that there may have been some conversation on the ice that we obviously couldn’t hear. 

I contended all along that this wasn’t a “sucker punch”.  I said last night and I still say that Walker and Ward were square with each other.  On teevee, it looked like Ward wanted to rumble with Matt Cullen, but he didn’t want anything to do with Walker.  None of us can say for sure, but there might have been more to it than meets the eye.  Today, Walker said, through a press release that he was under the impression that Ward was a willing participant.

“Based on what was said on the ice as I was dropping my gloves, it was my understanding that I was engaged in an altercation.”

.

This appears to be something that played into the decision to rescind the suspension.  Is this fair and just?  I don’t know.  There was obviously some mitigating factor that we don’t know about.

The league, in its review of the incident, said that it was not a “sucker punch”, but there aren’t very many other details about their review. 

The teams will move forward and focus their energies on game six.  Boston cannot afford to worry about making Walker face the music.  They can’t spend time and energy seeking him out.  They still have to win two games in a row. 

Carolina, with home ice advantage, will be able to keep Eric Staal away from Zdeno Chara and should be able to force the matchups that they want.  It should be Carolina’s primary focus to get Staal on the scoresheet.  This playoff season, they are 7-0 when he scores a goal. 

With the exception of the third period of game five, this series has been called pretty loosely by the refs.  A lot of hooking and holding and interference calls have been let go on both sides of the ice.  I suppose game six will be called very tightly.  At least early on. 

With Walker in the lineup, the question still remains about Ryan Bayda.  He’s been out with the flu and Tim Conboy has filled his spot.  There’s a marked drop in skill there.  Conboy brings more toughness than Bayda does, but I’d rather have Bayda out there. 

Also, the question remains about Aaron Ward’s eye.  He’s being examined today, and the initial speculation is that he has a broken orbital bone.  I suppose we’ll hear about his status later today.

Filed in: | Red and Black Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: aaron+ward., boston+bruins, carolina+hurricanes, playoffs, scott+walker

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About Red and Black Hockey

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. 

David has contributed to CBC.ca for their Stanley Cup playoff coverage in 2006 and to the New York Times Slapshot blog for theirs in 2008. Red and Black Hockey was founded in July of 2005.