NHL Playoffs 2012: Chris Neil Should Be Fined for Intent to Injure
Neil is a physical agitator who can dish out hard, heavy hits with no problem but judging by his comments, he can't deal with being on the receiving end of a heavy hit. Michael Del Zotto checked Neil hard in Game 6 and Neil took offense.
After the game, Neil was pretty clear how he felt and would react next time Del Zotto entered his crosshairs.
Chris Neil on Michael Del Zotto: "I'm sure I'll catch him with his head down one of these times."— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) April 24, 2012
These comments show clear intent to injure and show that Neil wasn't appreciative that the league chose not to suspend him. While he did not commit an on-ice infraction, Neil will likely be fined but the NHL could suspend him at their discretion according to the rulebook,
28.1 Supplementary Discipline - In addition to the automatic fines and suspensions imposed under these rules, the Commissioner may, at his discretion, investigate any incident that occurs in connection with any Pre-season, Exhibition, League or Playoff game and may assess additional fines and/or suspensions for any offense committed during the course of a game or any aftermath thereof by a player, goalkeeper, Trainer, Manager, Coach or non-playing Club personnel or Club executive, whether or not such offense has been penalized by the Referee.
If an investigation is requested by a Club or by the League on its own initiative, it must be initiated within twenty-four (24) hours following the completion of the game in which the incident occurred.
Gary Bettman at his discretion could assess a fine or suspension for Neil's comments in the aftermath of Game 6. If anything is going to happen, it would occur in the next 24 hours. A fine is likely but a suspension wouldn't be out of the question.
It wouldn't be the first time a player was suspended for controversial comments; Sean Avery was suspended back in 2008 for his "Sloppy Seconds" diatribe targeted at Dion Phaneuf of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The NHL has said all year long that they wanted to eliminate dirty hits—primarily head shots—from the game. All year long discipline was dished out for hits that resulted in injury so why shouldn't Neil be suspended for attempting to violate NHL policy?
Here is some reaction from Twitter on Neil's candid comments:
sorry but chris neil can't gripe about del zotto blindside hit after he did same to boyle. count yourself lucky you don't have concussion.— Jim Matheson (@NHLbyMatty) April 24, 2012
Via @reporterchris, Chris Neil on Del Zotto: "I'm sure I'll catch him with his head down one of these times." File that under Intent.— Chris Botta (@ChrisBottaNHL) April 24, 2012
Apparently, Chris Neil lives by the old saying, "If you don't have anything nice to say, say something repellent instead."— Adam Proteau (@Proteautype) April 24, 2012
Chris Neil, making it very difficult for the NHL to exonerate him with his,"I'm sure I'll catch [Michael Del Zotto] ... sulia.com/c/new-york-ran…— Larry Brooks(@NYP_Brooksie) April 24, 2012
It is very clear in this instance what Neil's intentions are. He had candid comments after Game 5 in which he concussed Brian Boyle and when you add his latest diatribe to the mix, Neil should be hearing from the NHL for supplemental discipline.
Neil has never been suspended but after averting suspension for a dirty hit only to say he will attempt to injure another player, the NHL has to make the right decision here.
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