Before I give you my opinion, here are a few others you may wish to listen to or read first:
TSN (you'll need to look in the video feed for "Out for Two" and/or "Consistency Please")
Now, what do I think?
When I first heard about the hit I was driving home from work. I had missed the actual play, as it had occurred in transit from my desk to my car, but I was immediately struck by how against the call both Jamie and Dan were. Most would assume that was a result of your normally everyday homerism, but while Bakes has a tendency to be a little more homerish, both always point out when a call is good, even if it's one that hurts the Sharks. Rusanowsky is very even keeled, and that he was rather adamant in his opposition to Thornton receiving a misconduct, I was of the opinion that they were most likely right. Joe isn't a dirty player, hell he hasn't been suspended for anything since 2002, and he's not known for being a dirty hitter, so why the hell was he out for the night when the guy he hit was back on the ice the very next shift?
I decided I needed to wait and see the hit for myself before reaching final judgment. I ended up watching the post game wrap from Peggy Sue's where I did indeed see the hit. I didn't understand why that hit was worthy of a game misconduct, and I still don't. I don't understand why it was worthy of a 2 game suspension, either. The call on the ice was more than sufficient.
First of all, it's not a blindside hit. Yes, Perron is unaware of Joe's presence but that's largely because he's skating with his head down and turned through the neutral zone. Anytime you have your head down you are in danger of being hit, and hit hard. Regardless of whether you know a guy is coming out of the box or not, it's a bad idea.They don't call the type of pass he was trying to receive a "suicide pass" for nothing.
Secondly, after watching the video a few times, it seemed to me that contact with the head was largely the fault of Joe simply being a good 4-5 inches taller than Perron. He was not aiming for, nor did he intend to hit his head, he's just taller. He also has no way to know that in that split second, Perron's head will still be turned.I'm not even sure he knew it was turned to begin with.
I disagree with bakes assumption that Perron faked it, he was probably quite honestly shocked by the hit and needed a few seconds to collect himself. The potential for oversell by staying down and writhing some is debatable, especially when he gets up shortly there after under his own power, and is then back out without missing a shift. Now I am not saying a guy has to be seriously hurt for it to be a penalty, but with a league that seems to factor in injuries when looking at supplemental punishment, it almost seems like they just looked at the immediate aftermath and forgot that he said he was OK after the game and was just a little rattled by the hit.We've also been told/been under the impression that past behavior factors into these decisions, and this was Joe's first penalty of the year, and as I said earlier, his first suspension since 2002. Are they just really mad that he continues to insist on giving interviews shirtless?
Comparisons have been draw between this hit and Murray's on El Chupacabra, which was deemed worthy of the highlight reel. El Chupacabra never saw Murray coming, his head snapped back and he skated off woozily towards the bench after, but no call was made on the ice, or following a post game review of hit (if there even was one). Couple this 2 game suspension with Doan's 3 game one, and I feel less than comfortable about this decision.
On the surface, it looks a lot like the league is out to make an example of star players by suspending them for hits that include contact to the head, regardless of whether or not it is truly a blindside hit. Understandably, this has both fans and players confused. What is a punishable hit and what's not? Does the reaction of the player being run into factor it, and how much? What about size? Like Bakes points out, Murray can be boarded and nothing will be called because he's a brick wall on skates and very few players can actually knock him down. Should size be a factor? If so, how much? And can you really punish a guy for being big in a sport that allows direct physical contact?
What I want is consistency. The NHL wants to protect players, fine. By all means, take guys running at someone's head out of the game, but punish consistently. Examine all the factors surrounding the hit, see if it falls into your categories for suspensions, then move on from there. Don't just punish to make a point. You'll only confuse and annoy both fans and players, which is neither beneficial nor an effective distribution of justice.
Meanwhile, Carcillo does this and no one at NHL headquarters bats an eyelash in his general direction.
If you are going to punish players unilaterally for hits to the head, how the hell do you ignore that?
Do I agree with the suspension? No, not at all. The NHL would do well to sit down a better define legal hits, rather than appear to play a game of pin the penalty on the player every time someone gets checked into next Tuesday.