Detroit Red Wing Gus Nyquist is on the hot seat for his high stick to Jared Spurgeon Sunday night in Minnesota. After being cross checked in the back, Nyquist got up, turned around, and jabbed Spurgeon with a violent blow right under the visor.
Video: Jasm Sports Network
I don’t care that Spurgeon was able to stay in the game. I don’t care that Nyquist may or may not have intended to decapitate Spurgeon. Those things are only factors on suspension length (which is still stupid), but NOT relevant when trying to decide whether to suspend. So without any of that, is there enough to suspend? Can we say this play was reckless over and above the normal realm of the rulebook?
For me it all comes down to one thing: Was this just a hockey play gone wrong? Let me explain.
Was he in any less control than we usually see? Compare this to typical high sticks such as when you go to lift a player’s stick and you miss, going right up into the face. Technically you have control and its an intentional motion, but things don’t go as planned and boom! It’s a pretty serious facial injury from a violent impact. No one cares, and rightly so because it’s just a hockey play gone wrong. How about when you only have one hand on your stick and you attempt to go around someone? Your stick swings behind and instead of going over the top, you whip a guy square across the chin. Again, that’s a very violent impact with possible severe injury. There’s a very good argument for a suspension there because it’s an intentional forfeiting of stick control. A player has no idea where that stick is going because they’re watching the puck or trying to battle a guy. No one cares though, and again rightly so, because its just a hockey play and no one’s trying to hurt anybody. It’s just two or four based on whether there’s blood (again, stupid).
Now, with Nyquist we have a guy who was just cross checked to the back. He stands up, looks around to see his opponent, and then tries to engage in a shoving battle. He lifts his stick, spins around to face the guy and boom! It’s a pretty serious facial injury from an accidental violent impact. Not that different from things that happen on a regular basis.
Where it’s really different is in appearance only, in the fact that it looks like he got up in a blind rage and jabbed a guy in the eyeballs in retaliation. It makes you want to punish. It makes you want to throw the book at a guy. The on ice officials didn’t call spear or give a high sticking major. They gave the typical high sticking double minor. I’m not saying the NHL Department of Player Safety can’t go against the officials. They can and should look at this under their own microscope. I’m only pointing that out to say not everyone feels it was an obvious face carving punishable by death.
I’m not against supplementary discipline here. I could understand it. The guy needs to be smarter with his stick. But I just want to prepare you for if they do nothing or only give a one or two game “appearances” suspension, especially when they only gave Duncan Keith 6 games last year for something much worse.