Sutton adjusting to new rules

Oilers defenceman Andy Sutton scraps with Avalanche defenceman Shane O'Brien at the Pepsi Center in...

Oilers defenceman Andy Sutton scraps with Avalanche defenceman Shane O'Brien at the Pepsi Center in Denver, Col., Oct. 28, 2011. (RICK WILKING/Reuters)

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:09 PM ET

EDMONTON - Its a very fine line when three or four inches at high speed means the difference between a five-game suspension and a clean hit, but if those are the rules Andy Sutton has no choice but to accept them.

With four games left on his five-game sentence for an open-ice hit on Gabriel Landeskog, Sutton spoke for the first time Wednesday and grudgingly accepted the punishment.

My intention was to catch a player with his head down with a clean body check, said the Oilers defenceman. I dont feel I deviated my positioning to target the head. If the end result is a good portion of the blow ending up on his head I have to deal with the consequences.

Sutton argued in his defence that Landeskog was turned and bent in such a way that there wasnt much else to make contact with, and that he actually grazed Landeskogs shoulder first a point Brendan Shanahan confirmed in explaining the supplementary discipline.

Its a difficult play, I didnt have a large area to hit, said the 6-foot-6, 245-pounder, adding if hed made contact a few inches to the right everything is fine.

At the end of the day, given where the league is headed with the rules, its on the hitter to make sure hes in total control. Regardless of what the opposing player does, you have ensure that the primary point of contact is on the body.

Where the league is headed with the rules, some fear, is a climate where if a player misses his target by a fraction of a second and catches the head, regardless of intent, it will result in a hefty suspension. If thats the case, why risk throwing those big, open-ice hits at all?

Ill have to be even more mindful of the new rules, said Sutton. Im going to continue to play aggressively, its got me this far. I guess Ill have to double-check all my routes in the future.

The hearing itself was useful, though, and Sutton believes he had a fair opportunity to tell his side of the story.

(Shanahan) was very receptive. He listened to everything we had to say multiple times. He gave us a good portion of his day and we pleaded our case. Ultimately hes making the decision thats best for all players involved and trying to make a permanent change.

One thats going to take time, and frustrate a lot of people, before it reaches widespread acceptance.

The same thing happened early on with obstruction. Its a feeling-out process and thats what were going through right now, said Sutton. You never want to be the guy suspended, the guy other people learn from in this instance, but these are the cards Im dealt right now.

With Sutton out, and blueliners Ryan Whitney and Cam Barker on the limp, the Oilers recalled defenceman Colten Teubert, the former L.A. Kings draft pick came over in the Dustin Penner trade. Teubert has yet to play an NHL game, but it looks like his first will be against his old team.

OCTOBER CLASSIC

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins capped off his dream start to this NHL career by being named the leagues rookie of the month.

Its definitely a good honour, said Nugent-Hopkins, who has 11 points in 11 games. It just shows how good the teams been playing and how good our line has been clicking and stuff. Weve really developed some chemistry.

Ive seen some of the starts that the other guys had and it looks like theyre doing really good, too. Its been a good adjustment for all of us, Im just excited about how well its gone for me.

robert.tychkowski@sunmedia.ca

@SUN_TYCHKOWSKI


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