If you had to pick one discussion topic this season that gets hockey fans talking, it would have to be suspensions. And no, I am not referring solely to Flyers fans (although we would certainly apply). Colin Campbell has made headlines all season long in deciding how and when he chooses to dole out his form of justice. One word pops into my head when I look back on Mr. Campbell's decisions thus far this season: inconsistency.
After the 20 game suspension handed down to Steve Downie, I said that I would reserve judgment. The suspension was justified, so long as that was the new standard. Simon Gagne said it well, "If Steve's the first guy to have to take all those games for it, hopefully the league's going to be consistent if something like that happens in the future. I hope they will be severe like they are with Steve. I hope Steve's not going to be the only guy", Gagne told the Associated Press. So much for that.
The latest Campbell decision creating debate fodder on hockey message boards is the non-suspension of George Laraque for his shove to the back of Downie. There is no doubt that Downie put himself in a dangerous position; it could also be argued that Downie embellished the after effects of his head-first collision with the boards. None of that changes the fact that Laraque made a poor decision to shove a player in a "vulnerable position". Plain and simple, it was a dangerous play. And once again, fans are left questioning, "what are the suspension standards?"
If a crosscheck to the face of Ryan Kesler by Jesse Boulerice is worth 25 games, then why is a cross check to the head of Patrice Brisebois by Scott Nichol only worth 5 games? If a flying elbow to the head of Matt Niskanen from Riley Cote is worth 3 games, then why is a flying Kovalchuk to the back of Michal Rozsival only worth one? The difference between Chris Simon's baseball swing to the face of Ryan Hollweg and Matthias Ohlund's to the leg of Mikko Koivu's leg was about five feet, but to the NHL and Mr. Campbell the difference was more like 25 games. Are you as baffled as I am?
Finding any logic at all in Campbell's decision making can be difficult.
"If you leave your feet, if you target an opponent's head, if you hit an unsuspecting, or target a player … there is no doubt there was also intent here, as well. This hit contained all five criteria." Campbell told the Philadelphia Inquirer after announcing the Downie suspension. Haven't there been any other hits this season that have acheieved those criteria? If you hit 3 of 5 of the criteria that were used in the Downie ruling, should you be suspended for 12 games? Not even close.
Koivu missed 24 games after his leg was broken by Ohlund's slash, while Kesler never misses a game after being slashed by Boulerice. Boulerice gets 25 games while Ohlund gets 4, and yet Campbell has stated that the result of the play affects the decision on how long the suspension will be. Am I missing something?
As hockey fans, all we can ask for is a little bit of consistency from the league when it comes to discipline. Time after time, Colin Campbell has delivered consistent inconsistency and it continues to hurt the image of a league that can ill-afford damaging its image any more.
There is consistency - via the inconsistent application of punishment in order to maintain consistency for overall continuity. (?) (IE: Doublespeak.) Meanwhile, Downie's neck compressed into his shoulders. I don't see that as embellishment. Lying on the ice afterwards? Only Downie knows, but he sure deserved a few moments to clear out the cobwebs.
The thought that Downie intentionally threw himself into boards that is being tossed around is completely absurd. I was trying to concede that it was possible he was fine after the hit and tried to sell the call by lying on the ice. Not saying that is what I believe, but that it was possible.
...by your logic, shouldn't Jones have got 40 plus games for his hit on Bergeron?A hit to the head is potentially far more dangerous than a whack on the back of the leg. As well there was definite intent to injure on Boulerice's, Downie's, and Simon's hits. It was unfortunate for Koivu that he missed more games than Kesler, but one hit had definite intent to injure and the other was reaction hit with o intent to injure. Perhaps irony entered the fray -- the intent to injure caused no injury and the "no attempt to injure" caused injury. All that being said, expecting consistency from Campbell and the NHL is futile at this time. Perhaps there needs to be someone else taking over from Buttman and Campbell.
I agree on all counts but, honestly, no one in the NHL (teams or management) seems to care outside of Philly. And IMO, they care even less or they try to invent reasons why it's really just a problem with the our team or with a certain player when the suspension issue is brought up. It gets even worse when fans (both flyers and other teams) whine like crazy or get into petty squabbles that turn into a "trash Steve Downie and the Flyers fest 2008." I believe that we as Flyers fans need to just let it go and realize that this Philly vs. NHL is here to stay until some other team makes a bunch of stupid mistakes. We are the target and it will be easy to attack us partly, b/c of how sensitive some us have been and also b/c the team has brought on it on themselves with 5 suspensions (deserved or not). The best thing we can do for ourselves is to put on the black flyers hat (Jsaq 2008), look forward, and don't worry about the idiots on this site that put up posts just to get 1000 hits like that guy with the stupid spaceman avatar. BTW, if you read this Jsaq I just want to thank you for starting the whole black hat thing. It lets us be concerned about what's important and that's flyers hockey. Not someone elses attempt to insult or push buttons. All that being said, I really hope Foppa stays in Europe. We need more time to grow from within IMHO.