Sutton to sit five games

Oilers defenceman Andy Sutton will miss the next five games after being suspended for a hit that...

Oilers defenceman Andy Sutton will miss the next five games after being suspended for a hit that targeted Avs rookie forward Gabriel Landeskog's head. (Amber Bracken/QMI Agency)

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:16 PM ET

EDMONTON - The long and rather inconsistent arm of the NHL law came down hard on Andy Sutton — hitting the Oilers defenceman with a five-game suspension for his open-ice check last Friday on Gabriel Landeskog. There was no injury on the play and Sutton had his elbow down, but because he caught the Colorado rookie’s head he’s out for five.

Sutton, who already served one game while waiting for NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan to decide the length of the suspension, will miss the first four games of Edmonton’s six-game road trip.

He’ll also lose $57,432 is salary.

The Oilers refused to comment on the suspension, but did issue a press release attributed to Sutton:

“I have been informed of and understand the League’s decision, however, I had no intention of delivering an illegal check. For 14 years, I’ve always played the game with respect and integrity and I will continue to do so when I return.”

Shanahan decided that Sutton took an “improper route” to Landeskog and “did not deliver a full body check. Instead, he picks Landeskog’s head.”

“As Landeskog looks back to receive a pass in the neutral zone, Sutton steps up in anticipation of delivering a hit,” Shanahan explained in his video release. “Sutton takes an improper route to Landeskog and does not deliver a full body check. Instead, he picks Landeskog’s head.

“At the moment of impact, it’s clear that the head is the principle point of contact and has been recklessly targeted. Regardless of whether there is brushing of Landeskog’s shoulder, the head is the principal point of contact.”

Sutton is 6-foot-6, Landeskog is 6-foot-1.

The ruling comes a day after Shanahan ruled that New York Rangers forward Wojtek Wolski’s elbow on the jaw of Ottawa Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson 20 feet away from the puck Saturday, a hit that knocked Alfredsson out with a concussion, didn’t warrant any supplemental discipline.

Again, players are wondering what you can and can’t do out there, which is going to dilute an already watered-down physical element in the league.

As defenceman Theo Peckham said on Sunday, if bang-bang, open-ice hits with the elbow down get you five games, why risk hitting anyone hard?

“That’s the thing,” said Theo Peckham. “You’re costing the team, you’re costing yourself. You don’t want to take away that edge, but if guys are skating down the ice with their knees bent, their heads are going to be forward and if you try and hit them, chances are you’re going to hit him in the head if he has his head down. It’s tough.

“As a defensive defenceman who likes to hit, there’s almost nothing you can do.”

Shanahan, who’s already under criticism for some wild mood swings in NHL justice, will be hard-pressed to explain why Sutton’s hit warrants five games and other equally dangerous head shots escaped further discipline.

robert.tychkowski@sunmedia.ca

@SUN_TYCHKOWSKI


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