There are a ton of reasons all of us love playoff hockey and recognize the NHL Playoffs as the most grueling tournament in sports.

The game is faster, the hits are bigger, the goaltending is out of this world, the ice seems brighter and cleaner, the fans are louder. We know that with emotions running high and the intensity level soaring, there are bound to be some unfortunate injuries and some questionable hits, not to mention some questionable calls.

But what’s happened so far in the 2012 Playoffs, and what is overshadowing the great hockey we’ve seen, is absolutely ridiculous.

What started as a crazy first couple of nights quickly became a nasty weekend, and now we’ve reached a week of devastation on the ice. Malicious hits from behind, driving opponents’ heads into the glass, cross checks to the throat and face, and now Raffi Torres’ reckless airborne hit that sent Marian Hossa to hospital.

And we’ve barely reached the halfway point of the first round.

Some people blame the freakishly growing size of the modern day players. Some people blame the speed of the game. A lot blame both, and say we need to find some reasonable ways to slow the game down just a tad, and perhaps even find ways to shrink equipment without minimizing players’ protection.

Here’s a simpler idea. Make players think twice before acting like gutless idiots on the ice. Shea Weber received no suspension for that aforementioned driving of an opponent’s head into the glass. Arron Asham got four games for the cross check to the throat and subsequent sucker punch while Brayden Schenn lay on the ice, and that was considered a heftier punishment.

It seems Brendan Shanahan and the NHL have forgotten that deterrence is the main objective of a suspension, and are simply handing out these Mickey Mouse bans to follow a precedent, instead of to set one.

Here’s an idea. Throw precedents out the window the same way goons like Asham and Torres throw common sense and responsibility out the window before a cowardly action, and start handing out ridiculously sized suspensions that actually make a statement.

I’d rather be sitting here in the future with a slightly toned down postseason debating if a suspension was too severe, instead of sitting here in the future wondering how a near deadly on ice incident wasn’t punished enough.

Other than that, here are some morning links to lighten the mood: