Washington Capitals star forward Alex Ovechkin was given a two-game suspension by NHL discipline czar Collin Campbell today, according to reports, for his hit on Brian Campbell in Sunday's nationally televised game against the Chicago Blackhawks.
Reports out of Chicago indicate Campbell has a broken clavicle and ribs.
In the crazy, mixed up world of hockey justice, hits like those meted out by Mike Richards, Matt Cooke, and most recently, Steve Downie on Sidney Crosby, don't merit suspension.
But Ovechkin's hit, while late, paled in comparison to the previous ones mentioned, yet not only received a game misconduct, but a two-game suspension as well.
This is Ovechkin's second suspension of the season, and one wonders how much that factored into the decision. He was punished for a boarding call against Buffalo's Patrick Kaleta and a knee-to-knee hit against Carolina's Tim Gleason.
Ovechkin was considered a "repeat offender" in the decision, one that could potentially haunt the Capitals as the season progresses toward the playoffs.
I love Ovechkin as much as the next guy, but at some point he has to acknowledge that he's bringing this attention onto himself. The hit against Campbell, while not being egregious, was late and while Campbell was in an awkward position. It's unfortunate about the extent of Campbell's injury, and one must assume that those injuries played into the decision for the suspension.
But the very fact that plays like this can warrant a suspension, yet head shots like Richards' and Cooke's, both of which inflicted severe injury as well, do not, speaks to a larger problem for the NHL.
Due to the gray area in the rules, headhunting is not reprimanded, where a push in the back, on a routine hockey play, however unfortunate, merits suspension. Tough call to make. Even tougher to justify it.