NHL Suspends Ed Jovanovski: Bad Call By the NHL?

Derek PivkoCorrespondent IJanuary 11, 2010

GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 26:  Ed Jovanovski #55 of the Phoenix Coyotes reacts after being checked by the Los Angeles Kings during the NHL game at Jobing.com Arena on December 26, 2009 in Glendale, Arizona.  The Coyotes defeated the Kings 3-2.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Ed Jovanovski is no stranger to suspensions this season.

The Phoenix Coyotes' top defender was suspended by the NHL on Monday for two games, without pay, for elbowing New York Islanders center John Tavares on Saturday.

This will be the second time the NHL has suspended Jovanovski and this suspension is almost as bad as the first one.

Jovanovski, the first overall pick in the 1994 NHL Draft, was suspended back in December after catching Minnesota Wild forward Andrew Ebbett skating into the offensive zone with his head down.

The result left Ebbett bleeding and Jovanovski was suspended for two games. The Coyotes were 1-0-1 in his absence.

However, the Coyotes set a franchise record back in December for most wins in a month. Flash forward to this month and the Coyotes have struggled to win in 2010.

The loss of Jovanovski couldn’t have come at a worse time, as the Coyotes face their toughest two game stand in Glendale when they host the San Jose Sharks and the New Jersey Devils this week.

With Jovanovski out of the lineup, the Coyotes will be without their top defender as they face two of the best teams in the NHL.

Jovanovski will return to the Coyotes on Saturday, when they face the Minnesota Wild. I’m sure the Wild haven’t forgotten about what Jovanovski did back on Dec. 7.

With Jovanovski on his second suspension, he is considered a repeat offender under the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. Jovanovski will lose $158,536.59 during his two game suspension, but the money isn’t the biggest problem.

The biggest problem will be replacing Jovanovski when the Sharks and the Devils are in town. Jovanovski is far from a dirty player, he is a respected NHL veteran whom any NHL franchise would love to have on their team. Jovanovski brings veteran leadership to a young Coyote franchise.

I believe the NHL made a horrible mistake suspending Jovanovski, this suspension reminds of last season when the New York Rangers scratched Sean Avery during their brief playoff run last season.

When Rangers head coach John Tortorella scratched Avery from Game 5 of the Rangers and Washington Capitals first round playoff series, the Rangers practically gave the Capitals the series. To this day, Avery hasn't been the same player since.

The suspenion of Jovanovski reminds of Avery because there was no point to suspend him in the first place. Hockey is a tough sport, players are going to get hit at times.

Tavares happened to hit Jovanovski's elbow and the Islanders would prevail seconds later when Kyle Okposo scored to give the Islanders a 2-1 lead.

There was no point to suspend Jovanovski, it wasn't a bad hit.

The only reason why Jovanovski got suspended was based on Tavares got hit in a bad place and the NHL capitalized by trying to protect one of their top young players in John Tavares.

When Jovanovski is out of the lineup, the Coyotes are a completely different team. As the saying goes, “There Is No 'I' In Team,” the Coyotes might say otherwise. Next to Shane Doan, the Coyotes have a proven leader in Jovanovski who has devoted himself to the Coyote organization.

Ed Jovanovski is as important to the Coyotes as Martin Brodeur is to the New Jersey Devils.

The only advantage the Coyotes will have with Jovanovski out of the lineup is that they are home during his suspension. The Coyotes produce one of the best home records this season at 16-6-2.

However, the reason behind the Coyotes' home success has been because of Jovanovski.

By Saturday it will be all over when Jovanovski returns from his two game suspension to battle the Minnesota Wild.