Thinking Bigger

Jason Strudwick
May 08 2012 09:57AM

 

 

I never had a chance to play in many playoff games. Either my team didn't make the playoffs or I was the extra guy cheering from the press box. It sucked watching! Really sucked!

I have a funny playoff memory from Vancouver. We were playing against the Red Wings in Detroit. There isn't a very big press box there so I sat right behind our bench in the stands with our team doctor. The guys thought it was hilarious! Todd Bertuzzi, my road room mate, would laugh when he would look back and see the doctor and I eating peanuts or hot dogs. I would have gladly traded anything for a spot on that bench.

Then I see a young player in Philly make a very bad decision. Everyone outside of Pittsburgh likes Claude Giroux but what was he thinking when he hit Zubrus in the head? He snapped because of a non-call on Brodeur. Now he is sitting out a huge game when his team needs him most. He should have been thinking bigger.

In the playoffs, keeping a level head is crucial. Winners of the Stanley cup rarely get distracted from their focus. Bad refs, breaks, luck and injuries are mere speed bumps. This comes from maturity. I really felt last year the Canucks were lacking it and it was the difference between them hoisting the cup and going home losers.

Comeback

Great game last night between the Caps and Rangers. What a comeback by the Rangers, awesome to see Marc Staal be the hero. The flip side is Joel Ward. He took the double minor that cost them two goals. Can you imagine how he feels tonight?

Question...

What should the severity of an injury have any impact on the length of a suspension? When you get pulled over by a cop for speeding can you just tell him no one got hurt so no ticket?

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Jason hosts the Jason Strudwick show from 9pm to 12am, weeknights on the team 1260. He is an instructor at Mount Carmel Hockey Academy and loves working with the kids. Having played over 650 games in the NHL, Jason has some great stories and unique takes on life in the NHL. He loves Slurpees and Blizzards. Dislikes baggy clothes and close talkers.
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#1 Soft Hands McSteeley - FIST Movement
May 08 2012, 10:01AM
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Right on Struddles! You wave that angry FIST!

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#2 Chaz
May 08 2012, 10:09AM
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My take is that yes, any injury resulting from a suspendable action should affect the suspension. To borrow your scenario Jason, if someone is speeding and hurts someone else, then the punishment is greater than if they just get pulled over in a speed-trap.

Going along with this year's playoff theme which is expect the unexpected, I think Giroux's suspension will wake up the Flyers and get them back into the series. Let the drama continue!

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#3 Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things
May 08 2012, 10:31AM
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I see what you're getting at with your last question, Strudwick, but it isn't the best example to prove your point. When you're talking about the Highway Traffic Act, reckless driving causing injury always warrants a bigger penalty than reckless driving with no injury.

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#4 Shredder
May 08 2012, 11:01AM
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I've said that to a cop who pulled me over...I got a ticket for speeding. But just because it didn't work once, doesn't mean I won't try it again...

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Question... What should the severity be if you hit M.Savard by accident in the head and he never plays again?

Is the NHL going to take into account guys previous injury history? If not then I don't think an injury should result in more games lost.

We need to get the act out of the game IMO, not the result.

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#6 Dave
May 08 2012, 11:22AM
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What about the NHL setting a minimum standard here to begin with? For example, a hit targeting the head with principal point of contact being the head is an automatic 4 game suspension minimum--then additional games if the players is injured, additional games if you have a history of cheap play etc etc. Why not set out a standard guideline for each suspendable play to stop the guesswork and politician like campaigning from organizations.

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#7 DonDon
May 08 2012, 11:35AM
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For the good of the game, I couldn't agree more with Dave on the NHL setting a minimum standard suspension for any head shot, whether unintended or not. Tack on extra games for intention, degree of injury, previous record, etc.

It could be applied for other suspendable actions.

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#8 Dog Train
May 08 2012, 11:38AM
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Good article hitting on a few points.

Definitely a brain cramp on Giroux's part to make that hit. Phill still has the depth to pull off a big win for him but they haven't been able to get anything going in this series against the Devils and he is their best player so that was just a dumb play by G.

The Rangers are my pick to win the Stanley Cup right now. You talk about keeping your focus and keeping a level head, the Rangers haven't let anything faze them all year. They play their style, they don't deviate from it and they are right in every game. They will be tough to scratch out 4 wins against.

I don't think that the severity of the injury should have a lot to do with the suspension. If the intent is there, then I don't think it should matter if the player is fine or not. Unfortunately, the reality is that the severity of the injury is often a factor in the types of suspensions that are handed out.

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#9 RexLibris
May 08 2012, 12:32PM
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Nice read Struds. Thanks for the article.

As to the question: consequence should follow intent, not outcome.

The consequences that follow trying to take a player's head off only to have the targeted player fortunately escape injury should favour the player that avoided injury not the the one who attempted to injure.

No harm no foul is poetic, but not grounds for a disciplinary hearing.

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#10 vetinari
May 08 2012, 03:04PM
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I don't think that the severity of the injury should factor into things because so many variables may influence how long a player is out:

his injury history; the player's ability to recuperate and heal; his place on the team and the need to get him back into the lineup; or, the nature of the injury resulting from the contact.

I think that an intent to injure (regardless of whether injury ensued or not to the contacted player) and the offender's previous discipline history should warrant the length of the suspension. Thus, a suspension because of a headshot where you leave your feet should be the same whether it resulted in the opposing player being out for the last 2 minutes of a period or for 10 games. Just make suspensions meaningful.

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#11 BlacqueJacque
May 08 2012, 04:19PM
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I don't *think* the severity of an injury should have an impact on the length of a suspension. It doesn't make logical sense... but we're not machines, we're human beings. Just as the league refused to do anything about dirty head shots (and I thought as a kid that Scott Stevens was one of the dirtiest players ever, and would get into constant arguments with friends over it who'd say he didn't leave his feet... and I'd point to Lindros or Kariya laying motionless on the ice, saying that's clearly wrong)... so anyway. I was saying that the league refused to do anything about headshots until Crosby got nailed. I'm sure the bad news coming from the NFL over brain damage helped, but we needed to see Crosby out for almost a season to do something about it. So yeah, injuries do matter - and the more dramatic, the more immediate the response.

Of course, on the flip side, if you nail somebody for 25 games for a hit that took someone out, while giving 2 game vacations for hits that didn't, you're not sending a consistent message.

This is where I've become completely disillusioned with Shanahan. I expected consistency and we had it for a few weeks at the start of the season, then it began to slide. The $2500 fine on Weber was really the breaking point for I think a lot of other fans as well as many players, who obviously saw the weak response from the league as a green light to go wild.

If you're a pro athlete playing at the highest levels, you're naturally competitive to a degree most people aren't. Throw the playoffs into the mix and the rare opportunity to win a Cup (mathematically speaking, if all players had 15 year careers, they'd have a 50% chance to win. 23% chance for the typical 7-year journeyman. 13% for a 4-year tweener), coaches and fans constantly harping on you to finish your checks, and the opportunity to make a difference by taking someone important out... you need that consistency. Because at the speeds the game is played, even if you intend to injure someone, it's likely difficult to get results. He can move whether he sees you or not, he might react to your skates or a warning shout, and even if you do hit him, his head might simply cushion itself in his pads rather than slamming against the ice. Throw in multi-million dollar contracts into the mix (especially for marginal players who could be earning a tenth of that in the AHL), and it's a volatile situation.

So it's the fact that you're taking the chance to injure that matters. Not intent, not actual injury, but the fact that you knew you finished a high-risk hit. Unless the league consistently enforces the rules, the pressure to win will erode respect. You need that arbiter to enforce the minimum ground rules. Shanahan has either completely failed or been so undermined as to be unworthy of that position, and shame on Bettman for allowing owners and GMs to pressure him... and shame on Shanahan for failing in his duty to the players he's supposed to protect, by bowing to that pressure.

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