The verdict is in. Niklas Kronwall has been suspended for game seven against the Tampa Bay Lightning. [Deadspin] and [Puck Daddy]. The NHL has finally decided to take action against the questionable hits in the playoffs, and it comes to the detriment of the Detroit Red Wings. There are going to be two camps regarding this situation. Those who feel the league got it right and Kronwall deserved suspension; and those who will be outraged that’s it’s too harsh a punishment because it’s game seven and Kucherov wasn’t hurt.
The decision has been made, and there isn’t anything we can do about it, but it does bring up the ongoing problem with the NHL’s inconsistency regarding supplemental discipline. Have we seen worse hits than this that go unpunished? Yes we have. In fact, Tom Wilson charging at Lubomir Visnovsky and possibly ending his career comes to mind. But there was no suspension there. Handing out suspensions are difficult, and I don’t envy those with the responsibility. Did the victim turn at the last second, or lower his head at the last second? Was the hitter already committed to hit and thus couldn’t let up? Was there injury, was the puck nearby, how many seconds passed between the victim releasing the puck and him getting hit?
There are so many little factors that go into making a decision on suspensions. But in the case of Kronwall, I certainly understand why the Red Wings and their fans are upset. It was a bad hit, there’s no doubt, and perhaps in the regular season would have gotten more games. But Niklas Kronwall has been making these hits for years. It’s his signature. He gets as close to the line as possible (and crosses it sometimes) and we make nicknames for it: (Kronwalled). The league has essentially let him know, by never suspending him in the past, that those hits are okay. He can crunch someone and he’ll get on the top highlight reel.
Now, in the Red Wings most important game of the season, the NHL decides to make an example of one of their better players. Their season is on the line. Yes, the responsibility goes to Kronwall to be careful, but in his mind, those hits are perfectly legal because that’s what the NHL has told him with their previous inaction. I feel for the Red Wings. I don’t know how much his absence will affect the game, because the Lightning haven’t exactly looked like world-beaters this series.
I’m tired of watching players get concussions because of irresponsible hits. I want to see harsher punishment to try and get head hits out of the game. But its unfortunate that the league decided to send Kronwall to the corner in the most important game of the season, after they turned their heads for his entire career. Consistency. That’s all we ask for.
In other news…
Evgeni Malkin has a sprained ankle. Bad enough to render him completely invisible in the playoffs, but not bad enough to keep him out of the World Championships. [Pens Labyrinth]
Where might Cody Franson play next season? [Today’s Slap Shot]
Should Toronto think about drafting Mitch Marner? [The Leafs Nation]
Recapping the goal that sent the Capitals to the second round. [Washington Post]
The Rangers Twitter feed is ready for the upcoming series against the Caps. [Hockey Feed]
Yeah the Blackhawks definitely need more good forwards… [The Score]
Who are the best free agents available this summer? [Sportsnet]
Justin Schultz: Should he stay or should he go? [Oilers Nation]
Peter Chiarelli would consider trading the first overall pick. [Hockey Writers]
And finally, should a player be judged by their Stanley Cup success? (or lack thereof?) [Globe]