Thursday, March 17, 2011

The NHL Again Proves It's Incompetent When Handing Out Punishments

Dany Heatley has been suspended two games by the NHL for an elbow to face of Steve Ott in yesterday's game in Dallas. Earlier in the game Ott was trying to stick up for teammate Loui Erikkson who was hit hard and cleanly by San Jose Sharks Douglas Murray. Ott engaged Murray in a fight and with Murray's tremendous size advantage he promptly took Ott to the ice.

Yet, what started out the events of the night happened to Niclas Wallin and to make matters worse there was no penalty on the play or suspension handed down by the NHL. Wallin was skating towards the puck near the glass and had his back to Jamie Langenbrunner who checked him from behind right into the glass.

The hit left Wallin dazed and even though he got up he was not 100 percent and due to the Sharks basically playing 4-5 hockey, it led to the Stars first goal of the game. Wallin skated off the ice and was woozy on the bench and did not return to the game.

That's what began the chain of events that started with Murray's hit on Erikkson. The explanation from Murray was “Well, when it comes to Eriksson, it’s a 50/50 puck." If he pokes it, he’s getting a breakaway, so as far as I remember the situation, I went to play the puck in the body on the same time and I hit him. You never try to hurt a guy, but it’s unfortunate.” 

When watching the replay of the hit, it's clear that Murray's version of the event is correct. Stars coach Marc Crawford stated “That’s one that they’ll have to look at, and I am sure that they will.” 

Recently the NHL has come under fire for soft punishments handed out to players for head injuries and it's understandable that Crawford would feel that way. The problem is the replay does not show a hit to the head by Murray it shows that Murray was going after the puck and hit Erikkson in the chest with his shoulder as he was going for the puck. 

Also, it's important to note that on Murray's hit on Erikkson there was no penalty called on the play. 

Murray was also involved in another play with Tomas Vincour where he got his elbow and hit him in the face and again no penalty was given on the play. That should have been an elbowing penalty and nothing more should have come of it. 

Lastly though Heatley got involved with Ott and was given an interference penalty. As Heatley was skating towards Ott he extended his elbow barely glancing the head of Ott, who took a tremendous dive to the ice and made the elbow look worse than it appeared. 

Where was the penalty for embellishment? Nowhere to be found! How did Ott manage to be on the ground after barely being elbowed? The icing on the cake was the post game interview who whined and complained about the hits the Sharks put on the Stars. 

While it would be understandable that he was upset about Murray's hit on Vincour, he truly had nothing else to complain about. If anything if Heatley is getting a two game suspension for barely grazing Ott? why isn't Langenbrunner being suspended for at least five for the devastating hit on Wallin?