When it rains, it pours.
NHL disciplinarian Colin Campbell has been handed another opportunity. Will he use this opportunity to further embarrass himself and the league, or will he stick to his new found standard of consistency?
Alexander Ovechkin, a reckless runaway train on NHL ice surfaces, and now hopefully labeled as repeat offender was at it again today vs the Blackhawks. In case you have not seen it, here’s the hit:
If that isn’t a suspendable hit given the climate in the NHL today, then I don’t know what is. Except for the fact that Ovechkin is the league’s biggest star. Or in the top 2. Take your pick, it doesn’t really matter.
Last week Canadiens motor mouth Maxim Lapierre was suspended for four games for a nasty, boneheaded hit from behind on Sharks forward Scott Nichol. To refresh your memory, here is the video on that hit:
On the surface they may look slightly different, but in the end, they are both in fact the same thing. Both were from behind, and both shoved defenseless opponents headlong in to the boards at high speed. Lapierre was suspended four games for his hit, and deservedly so. While he is a mouthy player who refuses to back up his words by dropping his gloves, he had not yet been suspended by the NHL. Contrast this with Ovechkin who has been suspended once already this year (no doubt begrudgingly), and has many questionable hits on his resume, including others from behind, and knee-on-knee. It’s clear that while some would dismiss the wreckage in Ovechkin’s wake as a byproduct of his aggressive, reckless abandon style of play, there’s no doubt that the focus should be on reckless.
So again the ball is in Campbell’s court. In just about everyone’s eyes, he dropped the ball by not suspending Penguins forward Matt Cooke under the “intent to injure” leeway that he has. He cited consistency as his reason for his inaction. To him it was more important to remain consistently wrong, because he did not suspend Flyers forward Mike Richards early in the season. If being consistent is his new mantra, then we should look forward to seeing a suspension of at least four games, should we not?
I am not going to hold my breath, because Campbell has given hockey fans no reason to have faith in him, but with the entire hockey world watching for dirty hits and Campbell’s reactions, he can’t afford to drop the ball again. But haven’t we heard this before?
Also embarassing was NBC’s reaction to the hit. While Ray Ferraro nearly had a stroke decrying Lapierre’s hit, barely anything at all was said of Ovechkin’s dirty hit. Pierre McGuire was notably silent on the issue, and when was the last time that happened? I’m not a conspiracy theory guy, but it’s not hard to imagine that they were being told to not get too critical of the game’s main attraction.
What’s your opinion on this latest questionable hit from Ovechkin? Will his status as a star save him again, or will the league do the right thing for once?