Wayne Simmonds of the Philadelphia Flyers was assessed a match penalty for a sucker punch to the head of New York Ranger Ryan McDonagh earlier today. Unfortunately, that’s not all about the incident that should be looked at.
Video: 647 hockeyvids
Obviously this looks like a wild man who can’t control himself decides to randomly punch a defenceless, unsuspecting player long after the threat is over. But McDonagh of all people should have been expecting something from Simmonds and should have been ready for anything at any time after what he did.
Seconds before this punch, Simmonds had McDonagh lined up for a hit, but rather than take it, McDonagh “protected himself” by trying to saw Simmonds’s ear off with a cross check to the head (here come the Dennis Wideman supporters saying “see? That’s what people do!” Well, did that look safe to you?). No wonder Simmonds was hot. So he does the responsible thing and engages McDonagh with a harmless slash to let him know he didn’t like it, and tried to talk him into something else. Only once he was grabbed by a Rangers player and realized he was down to his last few seconds of opportunity did he then punch McDonagh. I honestly have no idea why McDonagh thought he was safe at that point and he deserved the punch.
Punches that are much more out of nowhere seem to be commonplace in every scrum, yet this one is causing an uproar. I can’t believe this drew a match. The only reason is because of the injury, which to me is a crap way to assess the gravity of the punch. What if Simmonds had gone down holding his head after the cross check? Would we then be talking about how people need to be more careful with their sticks? Why wait for an injury? Talk about this one that DIDN’T cause an injury and suspend it so the next guy thinks twice and chooses NOT to do it, making it impossible to injure anyone.
I really hate random punches to players who really don’t suspect it, but in this case I think they should go easy on Simmonds because he actually did try and deal with it the right way, and he ended up punching a player who was facing him and should have reasonably seen it coming. Brad Marchand was only fined for his sucker punch to a guy he had to chase around first. Anything more here for a similar punch would be just wrong.
On the other hand, Simmonds should get 3 games for throwing his stick towards the official before leaving the game(rule 40.4). You just can’t do that, even though he has every right to be upset. McDonagh got off Scott free for the lethal cross check. To me, that’s blatant intent to injure, and it’s also a head shot. Take your pick. It should have been a match penalty on the spot.
McDonagh should get 5-7 games for his stick work. Instead what he’ll get is sympathy and well wishes for being the “victim” of yet another “horrific” head shot sucker punch.