I feel clumsy, maybe even a bit stupid, for writing about NHL suspensions. Well really, it’s the lack of NHL suspensions that I’m writing about. History has shown it is a futile effort which usually ends in twitter outrage, endless GIFs, video comparisons, and lambasting the NHL for not really caring about player safety.
So with that said, let’s compare some GIFs, watch some video, and join one another in our mutual befuddlement as to how the hell Matt Read was not given a suspension for hit hit on Daniel Carcillo Tuesday night.
As the video shows, Read sticks out his shoulder into Carcillo’s head making it the principle point of contact. The hit was made despite the fact Carcillo never had the puck in the sequence.
Wild forward Mike Rupp was suspended four games in April for a similar hit thrown on St. Louis Blues forward TJ Oshie (video above). In that hit, Oshie was actually part of the play and had already released the puck when Rupp stuck out his shoulder and clocked Oshie directly in the head; in NHL words, the head was the principle point of contact.
Here are some GIFs for the by side comparison:
Any reasonable individual can conclude these hits are fundamentally the same. Yet one was worth a four game suspension and a match penalty and the other wasn’t even worth a two minute minor.
The Rupp hit was more thunderous than the Read hit. But both were dirty, targeted the head, and were dangerous as hell. The Rupp hit though may be a bit more excusable. At least Oshie had the puck prior to the hit. Rupp was dead to rights though in the eyes of the Department of Player Safety. He hit a star player in the forefront of the play.
Now there are two things that the hockey fan needs to understand and learn from these hits: 1) if you’re going to hit a guy in the head, do it behind the play, and 2) hit Carcillo or some other jerk hockey player that nobody likes.
Read was not suspended because he hit a player who everyone agrees is a total jerk in Carcillo and he did so behind the play. You see, that’s the key. It was behind the play. Without the benefit of instant replay, nobody would have seen it. Since NBC, MSG, and Comcast Sports immediately cut to a commercial break once Carcillo was down on the ice, only to quickly show a replay before the ensuing face-off, it was as if nothing happened. Plus, did I mention that Carcillo is a jerk?
So if you’re going to try and decapitate an opposing player, make sure it’s Carcillo (or another guy everyone hates, like Matt Cooke) and that the hit happens behind the play when he doesn’t have the puck. Also, being an employee of Ed Snider helps too.
The lesson to learn here? Hockey players with a bad reputation don’t have brains that can be concussed. So the Department of Player Safety has no real reason to apply the letter of law to them as far as received head shots go.