Hyperbole Aside, Derek Boogaard Deserved More

Blake BenzelCorrespondent IMarch 8, 2010

TORONTO, ON - NOVEMBER 10: Derek Boogaard #24 of the Minnesota Wild skates against the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Air Canada Centre on November 10, 2009 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

On Sunday afternoon, Derek Boogaard served the first of what is a two-game suspension for a knee-to-knee hit on the Edmonton Oilers Ryan Jones.

There has been much made about the hit so far, with a few members of the media weighing in.

From the Cult of Hockey’s David Staples:

“So it happened again, just as it's happened so many times with Derek Boogaard and an Edmonton Oiler, Boogaardthe very definition of a goon hockey playermaking an illegal hit and almost crippling Edmonton winger Ryan Jones.

This wasn't a hockey play, this was a crime on ice, the kind Boogaard is known for, and the kind he will continue to commit in NHL rinks until some player gets badly injured and decides to sue Boogaard, his coach, his franchise, and the NHL.”

Now, hyperbole aside (and there is quite a bit of this to sift through), Staples made a legitimate point about the hit.  It was dangerous.  Very dangerous.

Now, this is me coming at this from a Minnesota Wild perspective. I thought that Staples’ tone and use of hyperbole was disgusting, to say the least. The reason why Derek Boogaard is viewed as a dirty player is because of this kind of hyperbole.

By the time this suspension ends, following Tuesday night’s game against the Florida Panthers, Boogaard will have a grand total of seven games on his suspension tally.

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Hardly the body of work of goonery that Staples builds it up to be.  Chris Simon, Boogaard is not.

This season, the big galoot (and I say that as an endearing term…Please don’t hit me, Derek!) has amassed 90 penalty minutes.  Good for 34th in the league.

My God, stop the presses.

You mean to tell met that the Boogie Man actually attempts to play hockey at times?  His 90 penalty minutes have him sitting lower on the list than Corey Perry, Wayne Simmonds, Alexandre Burrows, and Scott Hartnell—two of whom no one would ever dream of thinking of as dirty players.

It certainly isn’t possible that Boogaard could have gained this reputation through the colored lenses of opposing teams commentators and pundits, is it?

Now, this isn’t to belittle the point that Staples made in his article because it is, indeed a legitimate one.  But this is to point out how his use of hyperbole masks an otherwise legitimate and important point to bring up—that this hit was the definition of a suspendable hit.

Not only am I agreeing with Staples on this one, I actually think that the suspension should have been more than two games.

Now, here’s the deal.  Look at the suspensions for knee-to-knee hits this season.

First, there was Georges Laraque’s hit on Niklas Kronwall—a hit that both players admitted was not deliberate. What was the sentence? Five games.

Then, there was the hit by Alex Ovechkin against the Hurricanes Tim Gleason—a hit that, by many accounts, was deliberate and dirty. The sentence? Two games.

Looking at the history of the suspensions on this type of hit this season, I can’t see any reason why Boogaard got less than five games for this hit other than the fact that Jones escaped any sort of serious injury.

Wild fans, you heard correctly. The suspension for Derek Boogaard did not meet the crime. Watching the replay over and over has given me the perspective that Boogaard, while maybe not attempting to injure Jones, did stick out his knee in order to make contact with him—the definition of deliberate.

This is unfortunate because, save for a couple isolated instances, Derek Boogaard is not a dirty hockey player—despite what the hyperbole of many would have you believe.


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