First, off, I am a Flyers fan. In fact, I consider myself to be a die hard Flyers fan.
That said, I have no issue with any of the suspensions handed down to the team this season.
Steve Downie got 20 games for leaving his feet and delivering a shoulder to the head of Ottawa's Dean McAmmond. The fact that Downie raced in from near the blueline to nail McAmmond is also a major factor. McAmmond missed significant time with a concussion.
Jesse Boulerice cross checked Vancouver's Ryan Kesler in the face. Fortunately, Kesler was uninjured by Boulerice's despicable actions. Boulerice tied the NHL record with a 25 game suspension.
Randy Jones was almost step for step with Boston's Patrice Bergeron as the pair went after a loose puck. Bergeron got to it and, for some reason, stopped short of the boards. Jones hit Bergeron from behind and drove his face into the dasher. Jones got a 2 game suspension, which is proper.
While you should not hit a player from behind, you also put yourself in a dangerous position when you stop three feet from the end boards and look down at your skates. Jones never expected Bergeron to stop in that manner and there was no malice. Jones was very upset by the incident and issued a heartfelt apology immediately after the incident.
Scott Hartnell was heading toward Boston defenseman Andrew Alberts, when Alberts dropped to his knees to keep a puck in front of him. Hartnell made an effort to pull up, but still swung his hip into Alberts' head, which was at the same height as the dasher board. It was not a hit with intent to injure, but it was a cheap shot to a defenseless player. Hartnell was suspended for two games yesterday afternoon. It might have been a bit light, but it's in the realm of what most realistically expected.
So, yes, the Flyers have certainly committed their sins this season. I further feel that increased scrutiny is unavoidable for the team if there are future hits that result in injury. Unfortunately, the team is one that gets high exposure even when it's not having a run of suspensions.
However, the NHL's enforcement and suspension process is more streaky than a windshield cleaned by a chimpanzee smoking crack.
Case in point: Nashville's Jordin Tootoo hit a Phoenix player with a flagrant elbow and moments later was clotheslined by the Coyotes' Craig Weller. Tootoo's elbow is pretty similar to the Downie hit, except Tootoo didn't leave his feet, and the Phoenix player he went after didn't get injured. Weller was assessed a match penalty, which was later rescinded by the NHL.
Now, I simply don't understand how that is less egregious than what Downie did. Tootoo flew in with a raised elbow and Weller nailed an unsuspecting Tootoo in retribution. Somehow, the NHL decided NOT to suspend either player involved.
The next incident I'd like to bring up is similar to the Boulerice cross check. Scott Parker and Dion Phaneuf engaged in a little pre-game festivities. It continued through the game, with Parker elbowing Craig Conroy of the Flames. He then popped Phaneuf in the upper chest throat area, knocking him to the ice.
Eric Goddard jumped immediately to Phaneuf's defense. Parker was issued two majors for cross checking and fighting. He did not receive a suspension.
Speaking of Phaneuf, it looks like he left his skates last night to nail Detroit's Jiri Hudler with a huge open ice hit. Last I checked leaving your feet is a penalty in the NHL.
Next one I want to bring up involves Chris Pronger of Anaheim. Ryan Kesler of Vancouver-man he must really piss folks off-scored a goal(one of two) last night against the Ducks and as he celebrated, Pronger cross checked him in the mid-section.
Unfortunately, nobody has popped the video clip on You Tube at this time. Kesler was defenseless, as he was celebrating a goal, and Pronger came at him from behind and to Kesler's left side. Kesler returned to action. Pronger has not been suspended as yet.
Andy Sutton of the Islanders has thrown two questionable elbows this season. One was at the end of regulation in a loss to the Flyers. He came in from the blueline, and nailed Kukkonen from the side near the corner. He got a two minute minor at the 20:00 mark of the third. No suspension for either elbow.
We also see plenty of hits from behind in the NHL. Kimmo Timonen of the Flyers was hit from behind in the same game that Hartnell ran Alberts. I doubt that a NHL game passes without some sort of hit from behind. These need to be punished consistently, not only when the end in injury, like Bergeron, or Erik Cole, when he was hit by Brooks Orpik in 2004.
There also has to be a push to get players to realize that simply turning your back and expecting not to get hit is putting yourself in a dangerous position and should not be done, either. That especially goes for a guy three feet off the boards.
The NHL needs to do a far better job in reviewing these incidents, as well as any future incidents, regardless of which team is involved. Again, I have no issue with any of the suspensions handed to the Flyers, but the NHL and Colin Campbell really need to dispense justice in a more consistent manner.