It surprises me that Flyers' GM Paul Holmgren decided to speak out against the four-game sit-down that the NHL gave Carcillo as a result of his sucker-punch on Washington's Matt Bradley. It surprises me that he would publicly disagree with the suspension when his team was already put on notice in 2007 for its undisciplined play. But then again, perhaps this is Holmgren's way of taking the heat off his players after they were humiliated at the hands of the Washington Capitals. Either way, Paul Holmgren's "disagreement" with the four-game suspension given to Dan Carcillo seems a little unrealistic considering Carcillo's past and his team's past.
"Decisions come down from the league. Do I agree with them all? No. I certainly do not agree with this one," general manager Paul Holmgren said in a statement. "We do not have a lot of recourse in this situation. Dan will serve his suspension, and we will move on."
First, let's go back to the video.
It speaks volumes when two players agree to a fight, and both have a chance to throw the first punch. Carcillo's fist was striking Bradley's face before he could even get his hands up. That, kids, is the classic definition of a sucker-punch. And that, no matter what sport or background you come from, is cowardly. The Code is all about a fair fight, and Carcillo broke The Code.
"Everything happened pretty quick, I saw him drop his gloves, so I started punching him," Carcillo said after the game to Sarah Baicker of CSNPhilly.com. "He kind of came at me the shift before. He was talking to me before. I thought we were going to fight. I don’t know why he waited so long to drop his gloves."
Bradley and Carcillo had discussed the fight, and that's fine. Both teams were looking for a spark, and that would surely have provided it. But Carcillo's reasoning for throwing the punch is a little off. In fact, I'd say Carcillo's flat-out lying when he states, "I saw him drop his gloves".
First, Carcillo is in the act of throwing the punch before Bradley even has his gloves off. Secondly, Bradley's gloves haven't even hit the ice, and Carcillo has already hit him squarely on the button.
Guess what that is, kids! If you said "sucker-punch", you'd be exactly right.
Washington head coach Bruce Boudreau had some strong words about Carcillo's actions last night, making it clear to Corey Masisak of the The Washington Post that Carcillo's sucker-punch was bush league.
"[Bradley] might have been ready," Boudreau began, "but as he was dropping his gloves, Carcillo was already cold cocked and ready to throw them. He knew as soon as Bradley was ready to accept his challenge, the punch was there and [Bradley]'s gloves and hands were still down [at his waist].
"No matter how you cut it - and it's not like this guy is in his first year and first chance doing it - whether it is in this league or in the American League where I saw him for two years, he was just as big an idiot there. It is just a dirty play."
I, for one, completely agree with Boudreau, and the video evidence doesn't lie. If you want to be an enforcer in the NHL, you have to respect The Code. And make no mistake about it, Carcillo is an enforcer for the Flyers. While I doubt that there will be retribution sought in this case, you have to know that someone down the line may do to Carcillo what he did to Bradley.
And this is why I find it surprising that Holmgren is expressing his disappointment with the NHL's ruling. Holmgren played during the Broad Street Bullies days, so it's not like he doesn't understand The Code and the value of having an enforcer who follows The Code. While I understand that he may be standing up for his player, this is one case where Holmgren should be endorsing the league's findings.
If this had happened to one of his players, Holmgren would crying bloody murder for a suspension. He would state how this would have never happened when he played the game, and how someone would have rung Bradley's bell had it happened twenty years ago. He may have even called out the league for the instigator rule and how it has ruined the game, but all of this is merely speculation. Highly probable speculation, mind you, but speculation none-the-less.
With the NHL attempting to reduce the number of vicious checks to the head, a sucker-punch has all the makings of a concussion on it, especially when the player who was sucker-punched needs help off the ice after being knocked woozy by that punch. Holmgren has to know this. The NHL has been coming down heavily on players who are throwing questionable checks, so why wouldn't a sucker-punch be included in that examination?
If Holmgren thinks that a sucker-punch is acceptable, the NHL should look at suspending him as well. Anyone who throws a sucker-punch deserves to be suspended because it's simply not how the game was meant to be played under any circumstance.
Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!