The NHL Department of Player Safety handed a one game suspension to Columbus Blue Jacket Brandon Dubinksy today for a cross checking incident on Sidney Crosby during Friday’s overtime victory (see Old Time Hockey In Columbus for the video). Dubinsky was only assessed a two minute penalty on the play and my thoughts on that are laid out in the above link. Dubinsky later assisted on the winning goal.
The NHL went with one game on the grounds that it wasn’t an overly viscous blow(which is true), but they felt a suspension was warranted because it was a direct, deliberate blow with the target being the head. They also pointed (as I did) to the fact that even after Crosby went down to the ice, obviously rattled, the not so remorseful Dubinsky then delivered a third cross check to the small of his back.
I really would have no problem with the one game suspension for this if the NHL didn’t go around habitually handing out two to four game suspensions to players who’s only crime is throwing a clean hit that inadvertently also resulted in head contact (see Landeskog two game suspension disappointing and Two minutes for Bieksa too lenient). This intentional non-hockey play with a player breaking his stick over the ear of an unsuspecting opponent HAS to be deemed more dangerous and unacceptable than an unintentional hockey play on a player who should be expecting to be hit that just happens to result in head contact as a secondary consequence.
Verdict: If head contact is the penalty of the time, then go all in and treat ALL head contact the same way. If not, get your priorities straight as to what the truly dangerous kind of head contact actually is and suspend accordingly and consistently.