Monday, November 2, 2009

League inconsistency strikes again


Warning: Double standard alert.

In a recent game, Anaheim defenseman James Wisniewski smashed Shane Doan in the head with a vicious check. Doan left the game but later returned. He fought Wisniewski later on in his own form of revenge.

The NHL announced Wisniewski would be suspended for two games. The reasoning? The league ruled Wisniewski hit Doan in the head with his forearm.

Here's the hit:

So, if you're an NHL player and you're lining up a fellow player for a hit to the head, don't do it with your forearm. Make sure you hit him with your shoulder. Those hits, like Mike Richards' on David Booth, are just fine.

OK, seriously now. What the hell, NHL? Are hits to the head illegal or not? Make them all legal or make them all illegal. Is there really a huge difference between hitting a guy in the head with a forearm or a shoulder? Did Doan not duck his head a little bit? He certainly wasn't upright. Shouldn't he have kept his head up, like Booth supposedly should have? It sure looked to me like Doan was looking down at the puck. Isn't that what Booth supposedly was doing, and wasn't that the reason why Richards' hit escaped punishment?

The main difference here is Richards is the captain and one of Philadelphia's best players. Wisniewski - while he's a servicable, even decent, player - is not going to be confused with Bobby Orr or Nicklas Lidstrom.

So, naturally, Wisniewski gets the suspension and Richards does not.

Doan returned to the game, as I mentioned. Booth might not step onto the ice again for months. Wisniewski's hit is the kind that needs to be outlawed, though, according to league officials, not hits like Richards'.

Sometimes I wonder why I follow the NHL.

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