Los Angeles Kings forward Jarret Stoll was suspended following his hit from behind in Game 1 against the Sharks. Stoll will not play in the pivotal Game 2 in the Western Conference quarterfinals following a check from behind on Ian White.
After Stoll's telephone hearing with NHL senior vice-president Colin Campbell, punishment was assessed in the form of just one game, or two regular season games according to league policy.
While the Sharks went on to record the win in a 3-2 overtime thriller, the loss of Ian White will prove to be a difficult hurdle for San Jose. Stoll will miss Game 2 on Saturday and will be eligible for return in LA for Game 3.
Late in the first period with the Sharks dominating the Los Angeles Kings, Stoll hit Sharks defenseman Ian White from behind. Leading with his shoulder Stoll delivered the crunching hit to a defenseless White, causing his head to bounce off the glass and fall to his knees.
There was no penalty called on this play, and armed with the opportunity to set a standard the league again failed miserably when doling out this punishment.
Should we be surprised at this point? While Rule 48.1 and the increased focus on protecting the players has certainly raised the bar for concussion awareness, the league is still failing to get the punishments right.
We’ve all seen the rule and it’s punishment in effect, click here for a review of suspensions at the All-Star Break.
While the suspensions in the playoffs certainly should be softer in comparison to their regular season counterparts, the Stoll suspension casts even further doubt as to whether or not Rule 48.1 is working.
Dany Heatley was suspended two regular season games ( or the equivalent of one playoff game ) for throwing an elbow that glanced off Steve Ott’s shoulder. Ott didn’t miss one shift, and was not injured on the play while Ian White staggered off the ice with a bloody mouth.
Patric Hornqvist throwing an intentional elbow to the face of Tyler Seguin in a clear attempt to injure him late in the season netted him a $2,500 fine and no suspension.
Todd Marchand was suspended just two games for swinging his elbow at R.J. Umberger’s head from behind.
Raffi Torres was suspended four games for his check on Jordan Eberle, on what would have been lauded as a hard hockey check just a year ago.
The discipline and the manner in which it’s being doled out is making a mockery of the league’s efforts to curtail concussions and protect their assets. It's almost comical when you take a look at how inconsistent these punishments are, and the NHL needs to correct this problem.
Until the league gets the punishments right, and implements a standard system for these illegal hits, their stance on blindside hits will continue to sound hollow.
Meanwhile the San Jose Sharks will have to hope for Ian White's speedy recovery, with reports out currently that he will miss Game 2 as well.