NHL Not Serious About Cheap Shots
When a player goes down, it ain't pretty. You don't need to be a hardcore hockey fan to feel the pain of certain injuries. The thought of standing in front of a Chara or Pronger blue line shot is unbearable.
But when your player falls hard from a cheap shot, words cannot describe the anger that arises from within you.
So we ask ourselves, "What are we going to do about this? Where is the NHL?" Perhaps Colin Campbell ( one of my favorite bloggers, Adam Gretz, refers to him as the Discipline Czar) is too busy addressing suspensions to previous offenders rather than looking into those who are committing the crimes but constantly getting away with it (perhaps a Kostitsyn?).
Perhaps Gary "Butt"man is too busy reassuring the media that Sean Avery's "Anger Management" classes are going extremely well for him. We don't really know. What we do know is that they certainly aren't addressing it properly.
This recap of some of the more recent hits and the suspensions (or lack thereof) will hopefully shed some light on the situation.
Brendan Witt on Nik Hagman (Feb. 26, 2009)
This most recent hit features Brendan Witt charging with a devastating elbow to Hagman's head. If you want a closer look, check it out here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gZs7cyT6o9I
This looks nothing less than a deliberate attempt to injure Hagman. Yes, Witt is known to be a physical player, but an intent to injure will certainly not be overlooked. It will be interesting to see how the NHL takes care of this hit, especially considering how much scrutiny it has been under to address the issue lately.
Jesse Boulerice on Kesler (2007)
This hit left Ryan Kesler down for the count when Boulerice cross-checked him in the face. He didn't move for a considerable amount of time. What's worse is that the Flyers were up 7-2. Does someone want to explain this to me?
Then, nearing the end of the game up 8-2; Eager bowls over Curtis Sanford for absolutely no reason whatsoever.
The penalty: 25-game suspension
This is an appropriate penalty for a hit that could potentially ruin a player's season, if not his career.
Jarkko Ruutu bites Andrew Peters (2009)
In one of the more odd events of the NHL, Jarrko Ruutu bit Andrew Peters hand when he put his glove in Ruutu's face, arguably taking a chunk out of it. Ruutu insists that this never happened, but the NHL argues otherwise. Furthermore, Ruutu is noted to be one of the more agitating players in the league so one can imagine why they may have not sided with him.
Penalty: Two games
A little bit of Mike Tyson in him, wouldn't you say?
Kostopolous on Mike Van Ryn (Nov. 2008)
"Mike Van Ryn was hospitalized overnight with a concussion, a gash on his forehead, a broken nose, and a broken left pinky after being rammed into the end boards by Montreal Canadiens forward Tom Kostopoulos in the first period on Saturday evening."
—The excerpt from Tim Wharnsby of the Globe and Mail
This was a pretty brutal hit, and what's worse is that Van Ryn suffered another concussion the first or second game back from his original injury.
Penalty: Three-game suspension and $33,000
In all fairness, Kostopolous knew that he did wrong and it wasn't intentional.
Crosby on Boris Valabik (January 2009)
In a game between Atlanta and Pittsburgh immediately following a goal scored by the Thrashers, a fight broke out. The fight ensued and many were involved, but what really stood out was LeTang's holding of Valabik while Crosby landed a few sucker punches to the back of his head, his kidney, and his groin.
The Penalty: None
Yeah. That's Right. None.
Sergei Kostitsyn Slew foots...Again
I don't know where to begin here, the fight between him and Grabovski, or his weak slew foots he does left right and center. Last year I had high hopes for both the Kostitsyn brothers, but after viewing some of the slew footing he's done (and I do consider slew footing to be cheap shots), I have a less-than-impressive opinion on him.
The most infamous of his slew foots is against Alex Burrows in Vancouver, where Burrows was mic'd and can be clearly heard saying "that was a slew foot." This fortunately did not end in an injury for Burrows or the goaltender. Unfortunately, it didn't even result in a tripping penalty.
Similar to his slew foot against Luke Schenn during a race for icing, it was clear that Sergei deliberately slew-footed him, sending him kneefirst into the boards at an awkward angle. There have been other instances where Kostitsyn has attempted to slew foot players, but no suspensions have been given yet.
This is another area that the NHL must address. If the slew foot was intentional and potentially very harmful (such as a deliberate slew foot when heading into the boards) I would deem it a cheap shot just the same.
Plekanec Slew Foots Grebeshkov (Feb. 11, 2009)
On Feb. 11, while Montreal was getting pummeled in Edmonton, Plekanec slew footed Grebeshkov into the boards, taking him out for essentially the rest of the season. The slew foot was dirty, cheap, intentional, and could have caused far worse than late-season ending.
This slew foot is only one of a series that the Canadien players seem to have a knack at causing. Some bloggers online and critics have begun to refer to them as nothing more than the "Slew foot Champions." This is a serious issue the NHL has yet to resolve.
The penalty for deliberately slew footing someone should be as serious as a cheap shot to the face (or, in Crosby's case, the groin).
Penalty: Two-game suspension and $17, 204.
This concludes the first look into some of the more recent hits and cheap shots this season in the NHL. The reason Boulerice is near the beginning is to serve as a reminder for what types of repercussions players would possibly face two years ago when they decided to take a sucker shot at somebody with intent to harm.
Apparently, the NHL has forgotten about that, and simple two-game suspensions don't seem to be nearly enough to address the concern. Clearly they have deemed that legs are not as important as the rest of the human body, as slew footing is still apparently only a two-game suspension.
The issue here is not fighting, Mr. Bettman and Mr. Campbell. The issue here is fighting when no one is looking, not even your opponent.