There have been four suspensions handed out in the Ontario Hockey League in the last three weeks– none of them less than eight games in length. The league is clearly sending a message that the safety of its players is of paramount importance. After Gustav Nyquist’s questionable six-game suspension for his vicious high-stick on Jared Spurgeon in the NHL, it’s a breath of fresh air. If players aren’t punished for their actions, they will continue to make the same decisions. Whether or not you agree with the lengthy suspensions, here are a breakdown of the hits.
Cristiano DiGiacinto – 10 Games
Here it is #Storm #Spitfires #OHL pic.twitter.com/1VB8Ub1D8Y
— Generals Live (@GeneralsUpdates) February 19, 2017
As you can see from the video, Windsor Spitfires forward Cristiano DiGiacinto rocks an unsuspecting Guelph Storm player. You can see that the player in question, Nicolas Sicoly, had no idea the hit was coming. DiGiacinto keeps his elbow down, but there’s no doubt that his shoulder makes distinct contact with the head.
A few years back, he crushed Erie Otters forward Andre Burakovsky with a devastating open ice hit. Both Burakovsky and Sicoly were injured on the play. DiGiacinto got eight games that time, and the repeat offender received ten this time around. He will be back in the lineup on March 16.
Max Jones – 10 Games
Max Jones has always been a feisty player, leaving it all on the ice and never backing down. But there are times, such as in the video above, where the London Knights forward lets his temper get the best of him. In this clip, Jones clearly cross-checks Owen Sound Attack forward Jonah Gadjovich in the face. And after a goal no less.
If you watch the clip closely, you can see that Gadjovich really didn’t do anything that deserves any type of retaliation, much less a stick to the face. It could have been the fact that he was tangled up with Knights goaltender Tyler Johnson, but it was Johnson that was holding Gadjovich’s stick.
Jones is paying the price, with a ten game suspension. Including injuries and his time at the Anaheim Ducks training camp, he is on pace to miss a shocking 35 of London’s scheduled 68 games. He can return on March 14.
Garrett McFadden – 8 Games
Guelph Storm captain Garrett McFadden is the first player on this list who hasn’t been in trouble with the league before. As a relatively clean player through his three years in the Ontario Hockey League, the 19-year-old has played hard, but relatively clean.
Shockingly, there was no call on this play. By any standard of a “hockey play,” this is a dirty hit. McFadden’s elbow clearly hits the head of Flint Firebirds forward Jack Phibbs as he is streaking down the left side. McFadden’s looking his opponent dead in the eye before he makes the hit. If he had had any trouble with the league before, I could have seen him get upwards of 1o games. For this instance, he’s sidelined for 8 and is eligible to return on March 4.
Kyle Langdon – 8 Games
Niagara's Kyle Langdon suspended eight games for hit on Rangers F Nick McHugh Tuesday.
— Josh Brown (@BrownRecord) February 10, 2017
There was no available video of Niagara IceDogs Kyle Langdon’s hit on Kitchener Rangers Nick McHugh on February 7. The 18-year-old is in his third season with the Niagara organization, and has no history of suspension in the league. He, like McFadden and DiGiacinto, was sidelined for an illegal hit on an unsuspecting opponent. Niagara went on to lose the game in overtime. He’ll be allowed to return on March 3.
Regardless of personal opinions on each of these hits, it’s clear that the OHL is taking a zero tolerance policy to illegal checks in this league. With so many young players who have bright futures ahead of them, it is imperative that the OHL continues to protect its talent, and keep dirty plays out of the game. This season, they’ve tackled the issue by implementing lengthy suspensions for both new and repeat offenders. It is part of the league’s plan to crackdown on fighting and dirty hits.
All four players mentioned, play a significant role on their respective teams. But if they don’t respect the safety of their opponents, the only impression they’ll be making is from the press box.