NHL should have dealt with Hollweg

SCOTT MORRISON, FOR SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:57 AM ET

So, the next time Ryan Hollweg drives another player into the boards from behind, he'll be in big trouble.

Or bigger trouble.

But why the wait?

OK, the latest incident involving Hollweg, called for hitting St. Louis Blues rookie Alex Pietrangelo into the boards Monday, was not the most egregious of his career, and on its own was not worthy of supplemental discipline. All agreed on that.

But the key is this was not a one-off mistake.

Four times in the past year, he has been called for hits from behind. He had just returned from another incident in the pre- season and because of the volume of these type of hits earned an automatic three-game suspension.

This was the perfect time for the league, which has done a good job of raising the bar in supplemental discipline and eliminated a lot of nonsense from the game, to again send a loud message to Hollweg and anyone else who cares to partake in such reckless play.

In the case of Hollweg, a noted repeat offender, it's abundantly clear the message has not been sinking in. Too many infractions, too much frequency.

TOUGH CALL

It will be interesting to see how NHL commissioner Gary Bettman rules on Michael Peca's appeal of his automatic 10-game suspension for abuse of an official in a game last week in Dallas.

The Columbus Blue Jackets forward grabbed the arm of referee Greg Kimmerly after Dallas had scored a goal and Peca felt he had been slew-footed seconds earlier without a penalty obviously being called. Peca was written up by the officials under Category 2 abuse of an official, which indicates the incident is more severe than a Category 3 call, which is a minimum of three games.

Bettman is to convene a hearing today.

Peca admitted he did grab Kimmerly, not to abuse him, he said, but only to stop him from skating away. As of yesterday, the league hadn't found any video evidence and was relying on the official's report and ultimately Peca's word.

Over the years, the NHL wisely has been vigilant in protecting its officials, which is why it will be interesting to see how Bettman rules. If Peca is able to convince him it was an innocent gesture, then the suspension could be reduced to as few as three games.

From afar, wouldn't be surprised if the penalty is reduced.

TRAGIC DEATH

There is no denying the death of New York Rangers prospect Alexei Cherepanov at the tender age of 19 was tragic and horrible. Whether or not it was preventable remains to be seen as details of his personal health and the emergency services in the Moscow-area rink begin to emerge.

If this Kontinental Hockey League is going to be a serious venture, a viable alternative for big-name players, then how it handles the Cherepanov investigation and subsequently reacts is key to its survival.

The league has to make sure it has proper emergency services in every arena and that certainly doesn't appear to have been the case when Cherepanov died.

That was a freak incident. But what happens if a player goes head-first into the boards, or has his throat cut by a skate?

The Russian league will have to show players it is a big league and as such has the proper medical support.

ICE WARS

A wise man that Barry Melrose. The past few days the Tampa coach was being questioned about first pick Steven Stamkos averaging just 9:47 of ice time through three games. Only two players on the Lightning averaged fewer minutes.

That is quite baffling, of course, on a team that was struggling and had made Stamkos, the first pick overall, the poster boy for a turnaround.

Anyway, as the story goes, reports indicate that among those asking the questions about the ice time were the owners. Melrose has wisely declared that his goal is to get Stamkos up to closer to 15 minutes a night, meaning more power-play time and potentially double shifting the youngster.

Interestingly, in Atlanta, rookie Zach Bogosian, the third overall pick, was a healthy scratch Tuesday night.


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