|Penguins forward Matt Cooke hits Blue Jackets defenceman Fedor Tyutin from behind, a hit that earned him a four-game suspension, on Feb. 8, 2011. (JAMIE SABAU/Getty Images)
Yes, Dany Heatley and Brad Marchand were guilty of egregious headshots in the midst of GM meetings focused entirely on eliminating such silliness.
However, while the hockey world came down on Colin Campbell and the league for responding with meager two-game timeouts for each player, it’s only fair to note the directive to increase supplemental discipline has yet to be passed.
Before Campbell has authority to double or triple such suspensions, the NHL disciplinarian needs the rubber stamp from the board of governors and the competition committee this summer.
“Everybody says automatically ‘let’s give more,’ but we have to teach players and the referees exactly what’s expected and what your punishment will be,” said Campbell, hockey’s favourite whipping boy.
“With the exception of Rule 48 (banning blindside headshots) we added last year, nothing’s ever done in the middle of the season.”
And so, as first-time offenders, Heatley and Marchand got standard suspensions, which understandably infuriated the masses. However, when it comes to repeat offenders, it’s clear Campbell still has plenty of latitude as witnessed by the Trevor Gillies’ 10-gamer.
He should, he can and he will throw the book at serial offender Matt Cooke of the Pittsburgh Penguins, whose latest flying elbow landed in the face of New York Rangers rookie Ryan McDonagh Sunday. Anything less than six or eight games won’t do.
While the Players’ Association is expected to push back on longer/costlier suspensions this summer, an NHLPA spokesman said Saturday they’re likely willing to compromise if the teams and coaches are also held accountable for headshots. Only then will Campbell have more latitude.
Now for more notes, quotes and anecdotes from a sports world wondering how uncomfortable Cooke’s next conversation with Mario Lemieux, Ray Shero and Sidney Crosby will be.
Around the horn
Former Flame Adrian Aucoin, who played his 1,000th NHL game last night, has strong feelings about today’s NHL headhunting: “A lot of guys doing the hitting are maybe afraid to sacrifice their own body. As players, we have to be smart enough. You can hurt guys — that’s fine. You can go out there and try to deter guys and punish them for coming down your side, but when you’re potentially injuring someone who might not play again, I don’t know how you sleep at night. If you have half a conscience or any morals, you’re not going to throw an elbow at some guy’s face” … Good summation of why concussions have so many people worried: “We can rebuild a knee or a shoulder, but we can’t rebuild a head” … For those wondering why the Flames wouldn’t address their injury woes by hauling Craig Conroy out of retirement, the team already has the maximum of 50 players under contract. Also, a player can’t “unretire” for one calendar year without permission of all 30 teams.
How is it there’s so much outrage over malicious, unnecessary violence in hockey at a time when the world’s appetite for disturbingly violent mixed martial arts has never been bigger? … Interesting how two of the three GMs who want a total ban on headshots — Ray Shero and Darcy Regier — have sons who suffered life-altering concussions … First they win an Allan Cup, now tiny Bentley, Alta., is one of five finalists named Saturday as part of CBC’s Hockeyville contest, granting the winner an NHL exhibition game ... Breathe easy NHL owners: A league source confirmed Saturday RIM rogue Jim Balsillie has not shown any interest in the 66% stake up for grabs of the Maple Leafs ... Condolences to Mary Copot and to longtime voice of the Stampede chuckwagons, Joe Carbury, who both lost their soulmates recently. Murray Copot, who gave endlessly to the hockey community, died at age 87. Rose Carbury, who so often helped Joe in the announcer’s booth, died at age 85.