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The NHL Gets It Wrong….Again

Posted January 23, 2012

Photo Credit: Alena Schwarz


On Monday, the Vice President of Player Safety Brendan Shanahan gave two rulings on two separate incidents that occurred during Sunday’s matinee between the Capitals and the Pittsburgh Penguins. At 15:55 of the second period, Alex Ovechkin laid a dirty hit on Zbynek Michalek in which Ovechkin left his feet and went to target Michalek’s head, but ended up hitting him in the head and neck due to Ovechkin launching himself. If you missed the hit, the video of it is below.

A few short minutes later, at 11:34 of the second period, Michalek threw a hit on Matt Hendricks in which Michalek used his eblow and threw a hit in the back of Hendricks’ head. Again, if you missed the video of the hit, don’t worry, here it is:

So what was the ruling? Michalek was given ZERO supplemental discipline while Ovechkin was given a three game suspension. Shanahan gives a good explanation as to why it was ruled a dirty hit, and also gives a good recount as to what the charging rule states.

The real issue in all of this is how one can receive a suspension and the other one doesn’t. Does Ovechkin deserve some sort of suspension for his hit? He absolutely does. It was dirty and goes against exactly what the league is trying to get rid of. However, Michalek not getting any sort of supplemental discipline is ridiculous. What adds to this debate is that Michalek even was quoted after the game and said that his elbow was premeditated. PREMEDITATED?!?!?!?! So the league is fine with letting a premeditated elbow that could’ve seriously injured Hendricks (as fans have already had to deal with once with Rene Bourque elbowing Nicklas Backstrom, who is still out with a concussion), but a hit that was done in the “heat of the moment” is a no-no? Again, I’m not justifying what Ovechkin did. But can the league for once call the kettle black and have some sort of guideline when giving supplemental discipline.

In his suspension video, Shanahan noted that Ovechkin has already been suspended twice and fined twice for illegal hits. This is the only reason why Ovechkin was suspended at all. If this was Ovechkin’s first time, he would’ve been let off with a warning. Most hockey fans feel that Pittsburgh is the league’s “golden team,” and this only adds fuel to that fire. If you play for Pittsburgh and your name isn’t Matt Cooke, the feeling is that you won’t be suspended. If you’re going to suspend Ovechkin, then suspend Michalek. If you’re going to let Michalek off with squat, then you let Ovechkin off with squat or a fine and don’t make him miss any games.

Now the question is what Alex should do during the All-Star break: should be play or remove himself altogether from the festivities? Technically, he isn’t going to get paid by the league until he comes back February 4th against Montreal. He should sit out and refuse to be a pawn of the league. The league has made a boatload of cash off of Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin, and now he has the chance to stick it right back at the league. He should go somewhere warm, get a tan, and come back against Montreal refreshed and ready to finish the season.

At the beginning of the season I lauded Shanahan’s transparent type of justice. But now, this is just a reincarnation of Colin Campbell’s “Wheel of Justice.” Once again, the league got it all wrong and now Caps fans have to suffer the next few games without Ovechkin, Mike Green, or Nicklas Backstrom in the lineup together.

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