If the NHL was looking to start setting precedents this season, they certainly got off on the right foot, by making the right judgements or even being a little harsh in relation to Steve Downie, Chris Simon, and Jesse Boulerice. Somewhere along the line, however, the wheels came off the tracks.
Let's go back to the Simon incident earlier in the year. Simon had gotten into a scrum in a game against the Pittsburgh Penguins. During the scrum, he deliberately stomped on the foot of Jarkko Ruutu. The NHL came to the right decision on the matter and handed Simon a 30-game suspension.
In a recent game against the Vancouver Canucks, Chris Pronger, very much like Simon, had been in a little scuffle with Canucks forward Ryan Kesler, and, as Pronger finally got free, he stomped on the leg of Kesler.
The league initially never did anything regarding the matter, but finally broke down on the subject due to media pressure.
This afternoon, Colin Campbell finally came to the decision that Pronger only deserved an eight-game suspension.
Simon got 30, and Pronger got eight for virtually the same incident.
All the criteria was met for Pronger as it was for Simon. There was a deliberate intent to injure, and Pronger is a repeat offender, as is Simon, but, for some reason, Pronger gets 22 fewer games.
The reason for this is simple. Pronger is an all-star defenseman, and Simon is only a third-line player on the best of days.
The league initially said that there would be no special treatment in regards to star players, but that certainly changed this past week.
Pronger is certainly not an innocent man when it comes to cheap shots, but he is definitely accustomed to special treatment. Past occurrences with Pronger have only resulted in one-game suspensions that have landed players 20 game suspensions.
If the reasoning is based on marketing, and the fact they can't have all-star players sitting out for extended periods of time, then they should first consider that, if they do suspend a star player, a precedent will be set and their initial goal will be established. If other players can see that no one is safe from large suspensions, such incidents will become less frequent, and injuries can be cut down.
Until that point, however, this will continue to happen, and players will continue to get away with it.
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