(Writers Note: I had to use a stock photo of Hollweg in his Ranger blue. It seems he hasn't been in enough Leafs games to get a photo, a sad statement in itself I guess.)
Now, I feel I should preface this, because I know someone will jump down my throat if I don't. And rightfully so. It's a situation that sparks a ton of debate, usually heated debate at that.
Let me put this out there right now, so there is no questioning the underlying thoughts of this article: I do not condone, nor am I proud of what Ryan Hollweg did yesterday. Hollweg took a run at a young rookie who is cutting his teeth in the league.
He piledrove Alex Pietrangelo from behind into the boards. Something that simply can not be tolerated. Not from myself, and certainly not from the NHL.
With my son recently getting into minor hockey, I fully understand how dangerous hitting from behind is. And Ryan Hollweg needed to be punished for what he did yesterday. I fully agree with that.
This is Hollweg's second suspension in his short Maple Leafs career (which could be very short if he doesn't straighten up.) Toronto needs to play with an edge. But the reason it is called an "edge" is because you need to play on it. Not over it. In his short time with the Blue and White, Hollweg has clearly played over the edge too many times.
He must learn to play on the edge, not over it, to be a part of this Toronto Maple Leafs team.
As Hollweg took the penalty, I couldn't help but hear Greg Caggiano's words of a few weeks ago echo through my head " Hollweg will cost you games, trust me."
I kind of shrugged when he said it. Now, not even one week into the season I, and other Leafs fans are living it.
Toronto had St. Louis down and out, until Hollweg gave them ample opportunity to get back in the game, which they did.
Now, I have a soft spot for Hollweg, mainly because he is a funny, funny guy. But he has to learn how to play within the boundaries.
There is no reason to hit from behind like he has early in his Toronto career.
He is here to take other team's off their games, not allow them to climb back into games.
Here is hoping he learns the lesson this time, although part history has said he may not.
Now..having said that, I do have a bit of a bone to pick with the NHL, and it's disciplinarians.
Like I said, I will not defend Hollweg. He deserves the suspension he received.
But, one has to wonder if this is the classic case of perception being reality.
For some video evidence, here is the footage of Ryan Hollweg hitting Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo from behind. This is the play which has resulted in Hollweg receiving three games suspension.
And, it was bad. No matter who you cheer for, myself a die hard Leafs fan included. This kind of stuff needs to be cut out of the game. It's dangerous, very dangerous.
Now, Here is video from this past Saturday, when Montreal Canadiens forward Andrei Kostitsyn fills in Matt Stajan from behind, on a very similar play. This play resulted in Kostitsyn receiving no penalty, and no discipline from the league.
Now, again, I am not trying to make the case for Hollweg, as he deserves the suspension. But, if that's how you feel, then how can you not say Andrei Kostitsyn should receive at least one or two games for a hit that looks close to identical?
What is the difference between the two hits?
Well, the first difference is Ryan Hollweg has a bad reputation, and Andrei Kostitsyn does not.
Secondly (and I know a hit from behind hurts, I am not trying to make light of it) Matt Stajan didn't lay on the ice as if he was severely injured.
Pietrangelo on the other hand, laid on the ice motionless (except for the occasional look up to see if the ref was watching.) For those wondering, Pietrangelo did somehow make it to the bench and find some type of miracle cure which enabled him to be on the ice about one minute later, and engineer one of the powerplay goals.
I can't stress enough how I don't like what Hollweg did. I am not defending him.
But I do think, like most fighter/goon types do, he is being judged more unfair due to past reputation, which to a degree isn't necessarily a bad thing.
But either way, if Hollweg goes for three, Kostitsyn should have at least gone for one? Or at the very least received a penalty?