In is first game back after a lenient one game suspension for a sucker punch on Kevin Connauton (Lucic Deserved More Than One Game), it took less than a period for Los Angeles King Milan Lucic to throw another huge right punch. This time he missed his intended target (we hope) and landed a direct blow to the face of linesman Jay Sharrers. Much like the Dennis Wideman incident on the very same night (Wideman Deserves Suspension), the conversation always seems to drift over to intent. Was the linesman specifically targeted?
In this case, I would certainly hope not and I’m willing to believe he was trying to hit Colorado’s Cody McLeod. Sharrers was just doing his job trying to break up the scrum and, well, timing is everything.
While this was different than Lucic having to skate over and target a player like on his suspension, still it shows that his instinct is always to swing at the face. What has he learned?
In his defence, he was face washed. This starts off a string of so many questions. Lucic takes a stab at the puck as the goalie covers it. He stops after the whistle. No issues. He is quickly surrounded and “talked to” by two Colorado players. Still no issue. Then McLeod comes down after. Why is he getting involved? He’s the one who caused that scrum to escalate by even coming into the picture. Then he facewashes. It’s greasy. I wanted someone to punch him too. But much like a high stick, you always have to be in control.
First of all, punching is roughing. There was no call on the play. Second of all, if you hit something you weren’t supposed to, it’s still a penalty. If it’s a linesman, it should automatically be more of a penalty. It’s a preemptive discouragement of abuse of official.
But the main issue here is the unnecessary escalation of the scrum to begin with. To solve this problem they’ve tried the “only take one” trick, but that hasn’t worked because people are still willing to take the 50/50 chance it’ll be the other guy. Plus, sometimes two minutes is worth it to avenge a facewash. So my solution is to start loading the box. Have an automatic two minutes for a face wash. In fact, have an automatic two minutes for any light face shot at all. For a punch like the one Lucic threw, give an option for a 4 minute double roughing. Any second punch is an automatic extra two. Any third punch is a fight. Call it what it is, gloves or not.
Verdict: In my scenario, McLeod should have gotten an automatic two minutes for facewashing. Hopefully this would have discouraged Lucic from punching at all. If not, he would get an automatic two, possibly four minutes on ref’s discretion. He should also get an extra 10 games for abuse of official, rule 40.3.