For the longest time in the NHL, there has been a cry from pugilists that they are treated differently than NHL stars when it comes to suspensions. Far too often, the enforcers and agitators cry foul when a superstar is given a suspension that is shorter than what the noted agitators would have received. While there is no doubt that the enforcers and agitators have appealed before the NHL's Disciplinary Czar, Colin Campbell, many times before, the superstars rarely do and should be suspended for a lesser time. However, in the new NHL where deliberate checks to the head are being punished without prejudice, San Jose's Joe Thornton has found out exactly what "without prejudice" means.
The call for reducing concussions in contact sports such as hockey and football is still rising. Doctors, players, and the general public are calling for better ways to reduce contact to the head of a player, and for ways to reduce concussions in general whether it be through better protection, better rules, or both. It is for the good of the game that every player, from grinder to superstar, be able to perform without the threat of his game, season, or career being cut short by a reckless check to the head.
Let's see what caused Joe Thornton to stand before Judge Campbell to explain his actions:
These are the kinds of hits that scramble brains, kids. I get that Thornton was not targeting the head, but the head was still the major point of contact. The announcers are talking about blindsides, but Thornton came out of the box as Perron was looking in the opposite direction, and his shoulder made direct contact with Perron's head. That is, in any definition, a "headshot".
All Thornton had to do is turn his body so that Perron didn't run into his shoulder. It would still be an interference call, but it wouldn't have warranted any supplemental discipline. Had Perron ran into Thornton's chest rather than his shoulder, there would be no direct contact with the head, and Thornton may have only served another two minutes. Case closed.
Instead, Thornton received a two-game suspension for his check to the head on Perron. Do I agree with it? Yes. Enough with the head-hunting!
For once, I'm glad the NHL didn't see stars. Maybe the enforcers and agitators will think twice now when leading with their shoulders towards a player's head. Especially if they consider themselves treated unfairly by Campbell's standards.
Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!