Gus Nyquist has been suspended indefinitely for a high stick to Jared Spurgeon pending an over the phone hearing(see Should Nyquist Be Made An Example?) He decided to waive the option of an in person hearing originally offered almost immediately by the NHL’s Department of Player Safety.
Many are expecting a long suspension of possibly 6 games or more because of the violent use of a weapon(the stick) to the face, and the fact it was a retaliatory reaction. Most are using the Duncan Keith high stick of last season and the Marty McSorely high stick of as the most notable comparable incidents.
I would like to present another option, the Carey Price blocker punch, as the more comparable scenario.
If you’ll remember, Carey Price used a weapon (his blocker) earlier this season to deliver an intentional retaliatory blow to the head of Kyle Palmieri after the New Jersey forward made contact with the beloved Montreal netminder. (See Was Carey Price Justified In Slugging Palmieri?)
The incidents are slightly different in that it’s questionable whether Price made enough contact with the head. When you really think about it, that’s pretty much the only difference. Plus, after the original head shot, Price continued to throw body blows with this weapon until a crowd gathered.
Video: Montreal Canadiens
And here’s why I think the Price incident is more in line with what happened to Spurgeon. There was an amazing outcry of sympathy for Carey Price because “Palmieri had it coming for running a goalie”. It’s been an ongoing issue and goalies need to be protected or else we need to let them protect themselves! We’re more apt to accept the savagery from goalies because hey, you’d get pissed off too if you felt you were always in danger. That’s precisely why we need to feel more empathy to Nyquist here.
Why do you think he flipped his lid to attack in the first place? He was cross checked from behind dangerously close to the boards. Many feel this is just a “routine cross check”, but isn’t that exactly the problem? Earlier this year I pointed out how boarding (via cross checks from behind) has become a massive, serious issue (see Suspend For Less, Prevent More). We even had an ECHL player break his neck off a little shove from behind. But the NHL routinely allows them.
So forgive Nyquist for being more than a little unhappy at taking a similar blow. If the lack of protection by the league is getting to a guy who’s only had 92 career penalty minutes in over 300 NHL games, maybe we should be waving the “Save Gus” banner like you were for a hero like Carey Price, who finally stood up for goalies the world over.