Over the years since the lock out, the NHL has been refining it’s rules on body checking, in particular dangerous checks from behind and hits to the head. In the more recent years, the guys behind the NHL have made rules defining a blindside hit, and bumped up the amount of games that would be given if an incident should occur.
Unfortunately, this is all great in theory, the NHL has not done a good job of this in practice. There are many hits that should be penalized more heavily; suspensions for 5 or 6 games versus suspensions for 2 or 3 and fines.
A clear example of this happened last night in two separate games.
In the first clip, the Tampa Bay Lightening’s Mattias Ritola hits Matt Moulson from behind into the boards. In the replay you can clearly see him leaving his feet and jumping into Moulsons back. Moulson has his back turned the entire time and Ritola makes no attempt to avoid the crushing check. This was given only a two game suspension. I haven’t found out what has happened to Moulson
In the second clip, Calgary’s Olli Jokinen cross checks the Coyotes Wojtek Wolski in the face. Granted it was a glancing blow off the shoulders, but still a cross check to the head none the less. Wolski was not injured and returned to play later in the game. This cross check was given 3 games suspension.
Frankly I think the NHL got this one wrong. Much has been written and said about the discrepancies in the suspension handouts. This was no exception. The Ritola hit should have been given 4 to 5 games according to the new rules, while the Jokinen cross check may have been bumped up due to his prior history.
Hopefully within a few years the NHL will figure it out and get a call right.
But that’s just an opinion from another guy in the stands…
- NHL suspends Lightning forward Mattias Ritola (theglobeandmail.com)
- NHL Wheel of Justice (sports.yahoo.ca)
- NHL suspends Jokinen, Ritola (cbc.ca)