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NHL Officiating: Let the Punishment Fit the Crime

Brian WinettCorrespondent IIIMarch 17, 2010

UNIONDALE, NY - MARCH 02:  Brian Campbell #51 of the Chicago Blackhawks warms up before playing against the New York Islanders on March 2, 2010 at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

A lot of people will watch an ice hockey game and see someone get tripped and wonder why it's not a penalty for tripping.  

Hockey officiating is based a lot on judgement and there are generally four criteria that race through an official's mind before calling a penalty:

1) Was a scoring opportunity lost or gained?

2) Was there a change of possession?

3) Was it obvious?

4) Is there injury potential?

The No. 1 criteria, however, is that the offending team cannot gain an advantage by making a play that breaks the rules.

The NHL is letting this slip and needs to make some changes, one minor and one major. 

A pet peeve of mine is watching my team win a faceoff only to see the linesman blow the play dead because the other team cheated on their positioning. Then they re-do the faceoff and the other team wins it.

If a team cheats and still losses the draw, just let the game go on. In the case above, the cheating team is the team getting the benefit and this needs to change.

As a more major concern, I believe the NHL should institute a new criteria for punishing players who illegally injure another player. 

If you knock a player cold and end his season with a clean hit...that's just hockey. 

If you run someone from behind like Ovechkin did Campbell, then the punishment must fit the crime.

I propose that if a player injures another player as the result of an illegal play (excluding fighting with no instigator penalty), then offending player must be suspended until either the injured player begins playing again in the NHL or the current NHL season has come to a close.

In the case of the Ovechkin hit, Campbell is out 6-8 weeks and Ovechkin is suspended two games. Who gains the advantage in the race for the President's Cup? 

Washington can win that seed over Chicago now and get home ice advantage in a possible Stanley Cup Final.

In order to make sure that players playing recklessly and illegally don't gain unfair advantage over their competition, the NHL must revisit this suspension to Ovechkin now that new medical information is available regarding Campbell's injury and extend Ovechkin's suspension to equal the amount of time he knocked his competition out of play.

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