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The Malik Report

The delicate art of ‘gray-listing’

In his latest “Dreger Report,” TSN’s Darren Dreger reveals that the NHL does at least informally keep track of players who tend to bend the rules into a pretzel on a regular basis:

Todd Bertuzzi’s hit on Blackhawks centre Ryan Johnson earlier this week sparked reaction from those who believe - based on Bertuzzi’s history - he should have been held accountable as a repeat offender. Suspensions and fines remain on a players record for future consideration, but “repeat offender” status is applied for financial penalty for those who face supplemental discipline, or are fined by the NHL, more than once over the span of 18 calendar months. Bertuzzi has been incident free since taking out Steve Moore in 2004, and in this case, his hit on Johnson was not considered suspendable by the league.

However, there is an unofficial “repeat offender” category as well, which isn’t new, but, is used by Colin Campbell when identifying players who repeatedly creep to the line between what is and isn’t acceptable in today’s game.

In some cases, a questionable hit may not warrant a fine or suspension, but will prompt Campbell to call either the player, his GM, or both to explain the nasty trend the targeted player has established.

The hockey world is understandably sensitive right now to all head hits and bodychecks delivered with an added element of “meanness,” or sense of violence and the league says it’s commited to the job of protecting players, which means more suspensions and fines for those that cross the line. The problem is, as may have been illustrated this week by Bertuzzi’s hit on Johnson, in the eyes of the hockey consumer, has the line moved and if so, does the NHL need to do more than what is proposed for next season to adjust? For some, when it comes to addressing both definitions of what is a “repeat offender,” the answer is yes.

Continued with Crosby and Nabokov talk.

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WestWing's avatar

RE: The Bertuzzi Hit (aka How a Molehill Became a Mountain)

Was it wreckless?  Yes.  Was it a penalty?  Yes.  Does it merit any comparison whatsoever in terms of intent to the very blatant headhunting that Matt Cooke did to get his suspension?  Absolutely not.

I’ve personally seen dozens of hits that were far more brutal and intentional than the one in question.  Some of them didn’t even merit a stoppage in play let alone a penalty, yet very few have received the kind of attention this one has.

The amount of scrutiny and hysteria surrounding this thing has received owes itself to one thing and one thing only:  It’s because he’s Todd Bertuzzi.  End of story.

Posted by WestWing from Portland, Oregon on 03/30/11 at 03:58 PM ET

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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.