It is official. Alexander Ovechkin has been suspended for two games for his second boarding game misconduct of the season. Do I personally have a problem with the suspension as a personal Ovechkin fan? No, I do not. It is his second time doing this; that makes him a repeat offender.
The problem is the inconsistency of accurate and just suspensions in the NHL. Most recently, Matt Cooke's recent brush with the law and not getting a suspension for demolishing Marc Savard and ending Savard's season, for now at least.
Here is the list of all the boarding suspensions from this season:
- Francis Lessard: five games for hit on Ryan Donally
- Tuomo Ruutu: three games for hit on Darcy Tucker
- Patrick Kaleta: two games for hit on Jared Ross (a few days after he was boarded by Alex Ovechkin)
- Andy Sutton: two games for hit on Pascal Dupuis
- Maxim Lapierre: four games for hit on Scott Nichol
- Alex Ovechkin: two games for hit on Brian Campbell
Even if you talk about consistency, we could talk about how Matt Cooke was suspended for a "deliberate hit to the head" earlier this season on Artem Anisimov and was suspended two games for it. Then you have Curtis Glencross who was suspended earlier this season for "blindside check" on Chris Drury. He was suspended three games for his hit. Does that not do enough to justify a suspension to Matt Cooke?
Anyway, I think the NHL needs a code of conduct to judge suspensions. It should be simple and could go as follows:
Any game misconduct penalty that results in an injury due to force or intent is a simple three-game suspension for first time offenders. If it happens a second time, the suspension is for five games. Third-time offenders get a fifteen-game suspension. Any time the injury is serious and will cause more than two months on the Injured Reserve, the suspension is doubled (so it would be 6, 10, 30 games of suspension)
Of course, you guys are wondering what is "intent" in this situation. Well, intent would go as follows: any time you take your stick, hand, elbow, and attempt to hit somebody in the head. That is intent. No ifs, ands, or buts. That is intent to injure a player, because you should not be going after somebody's head in an NHL game at all.
That is just my interpretation of what I think could be a good start for the NHL in creating a justifiable suspension code, but the NHL is too blind to see what needs to be done anyway.