Last evening, in a Rangers-Thrashers game, Ilya Kovalchuk hit Rangers defenseman Michal Rozsival from behind, into the boards, while leaving his feet. It certainly meets all the criteria Colin Campbell listed when he ruled that Steve Downie's hit on Dean McAmmond was worth a 20 game suspension.
To remind us all, Campbell said Downie's hit met the four requirements for a stiff punishment on a blow to a player's head: The head was intentionally targeted
; a player launched himself by leaving his feet to hit a player
in the head area; the hit was delivered to an unsuspecting opponent
; and the lateness of the hit.
Here's the Kovalchuk hit on Rozsival:
Looks to me that Kovalchuk did EVERYTHING that Campbell said Downie did. He certainly left his feet. I doubt Ilya could have gotten any higher unless he used his stick as a pole vault. The puck had been gone from Rozsival as long as the puck had been gone from McAmmond. Obviously by launching himself, he was aiming for Rozsival's melon. One way it was different from Downie's hit was that it was from behind, which probably makes Rozsival even more unsuspecting than McAmmond.
I don't expect Kovalchuk to get hit with 20 games. I don't expect him to get as much as 5 games. Because Kovalchuk is also a "superstar". Is it really possible the NHL will further taint it's Hokey All Star game by handing out a lengthy suspension to Kovalchuk? Here's the funny thing, unlike Downie, Kovalchuk has been suspended by the NHL before. He got a one game ban for tossing his stick into the stands in December, 2005. Downie hadn't yet played a shift in a regular season NHL game.
If Colin Campbell had any starch he'd suspend Kovalchuk for at least 10 games, including the ASG. I hope I'll end up having to eat my words, but I doubt it.
Finally, where is all the media? If Downie sucker punches a guy, it's 3 days of front page stuff on tsn.ca. Where's the outcry, the blogs calling Kovalchuk an animal, the numerous "my two cents" blogs on this very site? This is why Flyers fans think they are held to a different standard than other teams and complain about it.
The Kovaklchuk hit isn't mentioned anywhere on the front page of either tsn.ca or Sportsnet.ca. No big surprise that it's not on the front page of NHL.com either.
UPDATE: Kovalchuk has been suspended ONE game by the NHL.
Thanks Collie, for reaffirming that you are incapable of doing your job properly, and that we as fans can almost immediately disregard anything that comes out of your mouth concerning a desire to rid the game of hits that are questionable. Downie was supposed to set a new standard?
Well you certainly are, Mr Campbell. A low standard.