Randy Jones was handed a two-game suspension today by Colin Campbell. While it may not be the number of games everyone wanted, this is probably the right suspension.
While I don't think that Randy Jones was in any way trying to injure Patrice Bergeron, he does need to be a little more cognizant of the possibility of injuring him in that situation. I am sick of reading all the comments being left in Panaccio's and Tolensky's blog by everyone about whether or not it was a dirty hit. That's a completely subjective opinion. You can say it was a dirty hit by a clean player who was doing more than just finishing his check, or you can say it was a clean hit and blame Bergeron for turning and crouching at the last second. But really, does it matter? Bergeron is relatively ok, thank god, and that's the most important thing. I'm sure I'm not the only one who was watching on Saturday afternoon and had the horrible feeling they had just witnessed a young star in the league have his career ended and possibly his life changed forever. I can honestly say that I genuinely thought that Patrice was paralized. It didn't help matters that they didn't give an update on his condition until well after the game had ended on Post Game Live.
Getting back to the suspension though, while I don't personally believe that Randy Jones had any bad intentions, a message needs to be sent to the players of the league that they really do need to consider the consequences of their actions on the ice. These are all young men and have alot of years ahead of them to live. No one wants to see someone be taken off the ice on a stretcher, not the players, not the fans, and certainly not the league officials. So, the two-game suspension given to Jones is more than acceptable given that no matter how you look at it, he hit Bergeron in the back and put him in danger and maybe the suspension should have even been longer.
I don't want to hear that Bergeron put himself in danger by turning his skates perpendicular to the boards or crouching down or any of that crap. The only thing that matters is that Jones hit him in the back into the boards and that stuff has absolutely got to stop before someone is irreparably injured.
For those of you that are saying that this is somehow reflecting on the Flyers as an organization, please move along and find something else to whine about. There isn't a team in the league that doesn't employ a player that has made that exact same hit at some point in their career. The fact that this is the third suspension of the season of a Flyers player is absolutely unfortunate, but the three instances are completely separate and in no way connected other than the sweater worn by the players in all three circumstances. There is no way that this is being taught or encouraged by Stevens or anyone else on his staff. I'm sure Jones will serve his suspension without argument and I can guarantee that he feels worse than anyone about this whole situation. Let's just all let it go and move on and hope that the players will learn something from this, although I doubt that will happen.
So, to answer my title question, no, Randy Jones is not a thug. He has absolutely no history of anything like this in his entire hockey career. He was obviously distraught over the thought of having seriously injured Bergeron. He didn't wait until later that day or a couple days later, he issued a statement during that game. he said that he felt awful about what he had done, he had deep regret and understood that what he did was wrong. Randy Jones is not a thug. Randy Jones is a decent young hockey player who is off to his best start ever in the NHL and wants to just move on and keep playing hockey the way he always has. Hard and clean.