I should start by saying that in a perfect world, the NHL would always suspend players who throw hits like the one James Wisniewski threw on Brent Seabrook for eight games, especially given that Wisniewski is a repeat offender, and that after the game he argued it had been a clean hit. When I looked at the hit I said something in the five game range would be appropriate, but I only expected Wisniewski to be gone for a couple of games.
In short, I like the suspension and think it’s appropriate to the crime.
My problem with the suspension is that it’s out of sync with what the league normally does in these situations, something that Ducks GM Bob Murray pointed to when he commented on the decision:
He crossed the line and has to get whacked. I support Colin (Campbell). Colin’s job is a tough job to do. It is not easy. Let’s get them all if we’re going to do it and make it equal across the board, whether it is a fourth-line player or first-line player, whether the player plays on the East Coast or the West Coast. Don’t forget, what was the last suspension of eight games or more? Chris Pronger when he was in Anaheim. Let’s just make sure it is even.
Leaving aside Murray’s implication that West Coast teams are getting unfair treatment (let’s not forget that Pronger fully earned those eight games) there’s some truth here. Was Wisniewski’s hit more dangerous than Matt Cooke’s attempted decapitation of Marc Savard? Probably not.
Perhaps this is a positive sign, though, a sign that the league is attempting to improve the way they handle supplemental discipline. If this is the new standard, I’m all for it, and I imagine that the majority of fans would be as well. I just hope it isn’t a one-off.