The NHL suspended Vancouver Canucks defenseman Aaron Rome four games (a Stanley Cup Finals record) for his hit on the Boston Bruins Nathan Horton (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Late hit? Yes. Suspension worthy? Yes. Four games? Way off base there!
Rome was given the longest suspension in Stanley Cup Finals history, and it seems rather steep considering he apologized almost immediately for his actions, and everyone seems to agree that Rome is not a dirty player.
Horton in the meantime, was released from hospital just as the suspension was announced, but will not play for the remainder of the series.
It's the eye for an eye mentality here. Horton is gone for the remainder of the series, and Rome will miss two games in June, and two more in October. Bruins fans will figure that one out a day or two later than most of us.
NHL Senior VP of Hockey Operations,, made himself available to the media Tuesday afternoon, following the announcement. During the presser, Murphy justified his decision.
The below excerpt is from the NHL's transcript of Tuesday afternoon's press conference.
Q. Is there a formula equating playoff games to regular-season games?
MIKE MURPHY: Yes. It's more severe.
Q. Is there a number?
MIKE MURPHY: No. I wish there was a number. There's not. You have to feel that. I know in the past when we had a playoff suspension, I remember the (Chris) Pronger elbow going back, the (Claude) Lemieux hit going on -- that was two, Pronger was one. I spoke to the gentleman who issued the two. Wanted his formula, talked to him about it.
I'm talking about Brian Burke. I don't like to mention people who I deal with. He was one gentleman who I did speak with. There's a lot of other people I spoke with, too, not just Brian.
Q. If there is a multiplier, for the sake of argument say it's two and a half, we're talking about a 10-game suspension, which I think is unprecedented. Is the Stanley Cup Final the time to start setting precedence with these things?
MIKE MURPHY: That's your number, not mine. My number is four. It is what it is. It stands alone. I looked at it alone. I know where we are in the Final. I don't want to put what it would be in the regular season.
Yes, it could be eight, 10. I don't know what it could be. I didn't look at it in the regular season. I looked at it in the context of the Final.
This is my biggest problem with the NHL's disciplinary system. There is no set value established for basically any sort of suspension worthy offense. It merely comes down to what Murphy, or Colin Campbell decides/decided was right to issue.
Part of this comes from the fact that an action needs to be taken by before the player under review plays his next game. Solution to that: If the act is deemed worthy of possible suspension by both the opposing coach AND the on ice officials, then that player is automatically suspended for one game, That would give the league better time to issue the appropriate suspension term without a rush.
But first the NHL and the NHLPA need to hammer out an appropriate mandate, in writing, for all suspendable infractions for first time and repeat offenders. That includes not pussy footing around the big names on the ice such as Alex Ovechkin, who received a fine (pocket change by his standards) for his slew foot , while Tomas Plekanec received two games. $5 million plus player or $500K player, you commit the crime, you do the time.
The only problem with both the league and the players association getting together on this, will mean reopening the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). With the current CBA expiring in September 2012, there likely won't be much activity going on there until after next season. That is unless Brendan Shanahan steps up with a bit more initiative than his predecessors do. If not, I suspect we'll be talking about the same problems and issues for most of the 2011-12 season.