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"Credentialed NHL Blogger for 11+ Years"
Suffolk County, LI, NY • United States • 47 Years Old • Male

"I know it was to the head. I know Mike Mottau. He's not a dirty player, but it was a dirty hit. Thomas Pock is not a dirty player, but he had a dirty hit against Ottawa and he paid for it."
- Bill Guerin

When Mike Mottau slammed into Frans Neilsen, it lit off a bright light on the ineptitude of the NHL. While an elbow to the head is a headshot that had punishment for Thomas Pock for 5 games, a elbow to the jaw/face which can cause head damage and concussions as well was given a lower tier. Only 2 games for Mottau.

It soundly showed how the NHL is limited in their scope of what a headshot is, moreover how badly they are protecting a player who is now out for at least 2 months, maybe 3. So if someone breaks Sidney Crosby's jaw, its only two games. Oh wait, of course it would be more. He's a star.

Fact is the NHL botched another nuanced situation and shows their complete inability to see the bigger picture. Chin, face, head are all connected. A shot to the jaw can create a concussion, more than knock someone out. And a hit to that area can cause the player to injure himself on the way down. Yet we are left with another glaring misfiring of a synapse from the NHL braintrust when they just took it up a notch as the Isles saw Pock suspended 5 games and supported it.

Then the NHL flubs the next one, which is JUST as bad.

The NHL should be embarrassed. A headshot is a headshot is a headshot. A flying elbow past the neck onto face/head and the force and damage it does is just as dangerous. After all, the NHL stipulates that the punishment is not measured by the after-effects, just the initial blow.

This isn't the first out and out hypocrisy of the league and it won't be the last. But they won't correct their self until a star goes down. It is only when it hits their milk money does any sort of revised thinking goes on.

Meanwhile, when Neilsen is pounded by a dirty hit from a formerly clean player, causing injury multiple injuries to his leg, the hockey old school of self-policing and protecting players is needed. After all the Isles have Mitch Frtiz who is there to make sure these kind of liberties don't happen to the young kids.

Scott Gordon, in my opinion, made his first big rookie coach mistake. OR, at the very least, I strenuously disagree with his take. You send out the goon to protect your players, not over think the situation. The hockey code was seemingly ignored with some politically correct, yet NHL incorrect rationale.

Here was the time and need for someone to dispense some old school and expected reaction to show that not only that at least on the ice a hit like that isn't tolerated, but payback is a female dog. The Isles could have used the infusion. They were behind 4-2 in an unfocused lackadaisical effort. Furthermore, a statement needed to be made that the Isles would not accept it.

But no. Fritz does not come out and the important role and service Fritz provides is ham handed into a rationale by Scott Gordon that does not fly.

I get that Gordo wanted to focus on coming back and getting a win, but his fears of "escalating" were unwarranted. NJ's Brent Sutter knew it was coming, whose own son was the victim of a headshot of his own making as Doug Weight launched a clean hit back in Carolina as Brandon Sutter put himself in a precarious position.

So we can ask the question, was Neilsen some sort of payback? We'll never know. Perhaps it was knowing that and where it leads, possibly to more injury that had Gordo looking to protect his flock. Yet without Fritz. But let me ask this: does he still feel that way when Mottau gets only two games as Neilsen is forced to watch for two to three months????

The head is a large object and the NHL must define it better because an elbow to the head was done by Pock and Mottau. If the NHL is going to differentiate by location, then you can be assured that someone like Chris Pronger will know to aim a few inches lower.

Ultimately the difference is a step back to ultimate NHL goal to protect players. That is where is flies in the face of any sort of logic. The NHL punishes Pock 5 games and makes a statement about headshots in order to protect players.

- BD
Filed Under:   Islanders   NHL  
November 24, 2008 11:55 AM ET | Delete
Until the good ole boys club is replaced there will be no changes. What you see is what you get.
November 24, 2008 1:15 PM ET | Delete
THe NHL is pretty funny. Some things like drawing blood or flipping the puck over the glass or instigating a fight it's an automatic penalty. Other things they try to play with the grey area. For example, the Pock hit got 5 games but the game before Ruutu got 2 games for elbowing Laperrier in the head... once I saw Pock's hit I figured he'd get 2 games like Ruutu, however he gets 5 for doing something very similar. I'm sure Ruutu tried to explain he mis timed his hit like he claimed to the media and I can sort of buy that, however Pock took responsibility for his hit and got 5 games. If the NHL wanted to rid head shots they should have given the same penalty to both.The problem really is that Sutter case. People critize the hitter for not backing down but in that case I 100% believe Sutter needed to know Weight was going to hit him and he had to be the one to back down. I just don't think I could support a penalty that would have suspended Weight for that play.
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