Saturday Morning Rant: An Eye For An Eye-Raising Suspension

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I don’t often talk about sports on this page. Like wrestling and other topics I sometimes talk about, I try to steer away from it in the hopes of sticking to just two topics: gaming and anime.

But this is an issue I’m not walking away from. For those who haven’t seen the Gustav Nyquist spear that nearly took out Jared Spurgeon in game this week between the Detroit Red Wings and the Minnesota Wild, here’s the video. Hopefully it’s still up when you read this article.

Now doesn’t that look ugly as all hell? It really does look like he intended to carve out Jared Spurgeon’s eye, doesn’t it? Thankfully, he missed Spurgeon’s eye and got him in the cheek, which still hurts like hell because these composite hockey sticks ain’t soft! So with a horrifying action like that, you’d expect Gustav Nyquist to be thrown out of the game, right? After all, HE NEARLY TOOK OUT THE MAN’S FREAKING EYE!!! But nope, he just got a 4-minute double-minor penalty for high sticking, the same call you get when you accidentally hit a guy in the face when you raise your stick and make the guy bleed a little bit.

I’m not done though. Now the NHL has released the number of games Nyquist will be suspended for. Now keep in mind the massive suspensions given in NHL history, via a 2012 article by The Canadian Press:

  • Life: Billy Coutu, Boston Bruins, April 1927 for assaulting two referees and starting a Stanley Cup bench-clearing brawl. The ban was dropped after 2½ years, but Mr. Coutu never played in the NHL again.
  • 30 games: Chris Simon, New York Islanders, Dec. 19, 2007, for slamming his skate into the foot of Pittsburgh Penguins forward Jarkko Ruutu.
  • 25 games: Jesse Boulerice, Philadelphia, Oct. 12, 2007, for cross-checking Vancouver centre Ryan Kesler across the face in a game on Oct. 10.
  • 25 games: Chris Simon, New York Islanders, March 11, 2007, for the rest of the regular season (15 games) and playoffs for his two-handed stick attack to the face of New York Rangers forward Ryan Hollweg. Since Islanders played only five playoff games, suspension extended to first five games of 2007-08.
  • 23 games: Marty McSorley, Boston, Feb. 2000, for knocking out Vancouver’s Donald Brashear with a stick-swinging hit. On Nov. 7, 2000, the suspension was extended by NHL commissioner Gary Bettman to Feb. 20, 2001.
  • 23 games: Gordie Dwyer, Tampa Bay, Sept. 19, 2000, for abusing officials and coming out of the penalty box to fight in an exhibition game against Washington.
  • 21 games: Dale Hunter, Washington, May 1993, for a blindside check of Pierre Turgeon of the N.Y. Islanders after a goal in a playoff game.
  • 20 games: Steve Downie, Philadelphia, Sept. 28, 2007, for leaving his feet to deliver a deliberate hit to the head Ottawa forward Dean McAmmond in a pre-season game Sept. 25.
  • 20 games: Todd Bertuzzi, Vancouver, March 11, 2004, for his sucker-punch of Colorado forward Steve Moore on March 8. Bertuzzi’s suspension was for 13 regular season games, plus playoffs. Bertuzzi was reinstated 17 months later, after the year-long lockout.
  • 20 games: Tom Lysiak, Chicago, Oct. 1983, for intentionally tripping a linesman.
  • 20 games: Brad May, Phoenix, Nov. 15, 2000, for hitting Columbus’ Steve Heinze on the nose with his stick in a game on Nov. 11.

There’s some real doozies in there, especially Chris Simon’s bullshit. Looking at the list, we’ve got skate stomping, slashing guys in the head with sticks, hits from behind, even basic “head shots” during a game. So for a play like what Nyquist did, a play that if his stick was an inch higher, he could’ve blinded Jared Spurgeon and ended the 27 year-old’s playing career after only six years, what does one get for such a play? 20 games? 25 games? Maybe a little lower around 15 games?

Nope. Six games. Six. Six games. Fucking six games.

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How in the blue hell does the NHL justify such a low number of games? I don’t care about the usual reasons. He was a first-time offender? So what?! He nearly stabbed a guy in the eye! He didn’t seriously injure Jared Spurgeon? So what?! He nearly stabbed a guy in the eye! He didn’t actually intend to hit Spurgeon in the eye, in fact he was intending to raise his stick up and over him and then cross-check him? SO FUCKING WHAT, HE STILL NEARLY STABBED A GUY IN HIS FUCKING EYEBALL!!!

Even crazier, Antoine Vermette is getting a 10-game suspension for lightly slashing a referee, because the rule book says that’s the minimum suspension. How does the NHL expect anyone to take them seriously when touching a referee gets you a minimum of a 10-game suspension, but nearly blinding a player and ending his career doesn’t have an automatic suspension and can get much lower than that?! I understand you don’t touch the officials, I get that, but explain to me how the Vermette play is a bigger suspension than Nyquist’s play!

The NHL has always been a joke with suspensions, they rely on things like precedence, repeat offenders and things like that. You wouldn’t give a man who kidnapped a child and then brutally raped and murdered them only six years in prison because he was a first-time offender, you’d throw the freaking book at him! If you want to send a message to players in the NHL to take close care of their sticks during a hockey game, this was a fantastic moment to do so and instead of doing what they should have done, which was give Nyquist a minimum of 15 games, they did half that and made this into a joke!

But then again, that is the NHL. They are so lucky us Canadians will watch it no matter what…

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