Armstrong suspension proves NHL system is flawed

It’s becoming such the norm around the hockey universe that it’s
become
exceedingly tiresome to get involved in. Endless debates about whether a
hit or play merits further discipline by the NHL has become the story
of the 2009-10 NHL season, and the fact that these debates continuously
rage proves that the current system is flawed.

The running joke
surrounds the NHL’s “Wheel of Justice”, playing up the arbitrary manner
in which Colin Campbell hands out suspensions. If you want an incredibly
(and scary) accurate portrayal of just how the messed up the NHL
suspension system is, go no further that Down Goes Brown’s NHL
Suspension Flow Chart
.

The latest such example of the
disparity in opinions surrounds the Colby Armstrong two-game suspension
for his flying forearm into the face of Washington’s Mathieu Perreault.
To some — like myself — the hit is immediately worthy of suspension.
Yet others, such as Puck
Daddy’s Greg Wyshynski
, feel that the play was worthy of perhaps a
four-minute roughing penalty and nothing more. He also notes that the
difference in opinion surrounding these plays is what makes the
suspensions so suspect.

The point is that blogs, fans,
coaches, players involved and
referees all viewed the play in different ways; which is a reminder the
entire
Wheel of Justice concept in the NHL is as much due to the bewildering
nature of
hockey plays as it is Colin Campbell’s inconsistency and the NHL’s
ineptitude.
OK, maybe it’s like 30 percent bewildering nature of hockey plays and 70
percent NHL ineptitude, on second thought.

Greg
mentions that the fact that the NHL doesn’t have a clear and
all-encompassing “head shot rule” makes this hit debatable and leads to
questions about the NHL’s decision to hand down a suspension.

Dismissing
the fact that it was a clear hand/forearm/elbow to Perreault’s face,
the fact that there was no penalty handed out for the hit itself is what
raises the biggest red flag. We know that NHL has decided — at the
very last minute — that it can suspend players for blind sided hits to
the head while in-game penalties don’t apply. But what about straight-on
elbows? Did the on-ice officials just miss the call, or did they decide
that it wasn’t an elbow and the hit was more about Perreault trying to
dodge than Armstrong laying out a dirty hit?

In either case, the
inconsistencies between the on-ice calls and the NHL’s decisions is what
makes the system such a joke. Writers and bloggers can debate the hits
all they want, but when the actual NHL officials don’t seem to agree is
when it become much more questionable.

Whatever your views on this
particular hit might be, Armstrong’s response to the suspension this
afternoon is what is most intriguing. Per
Chris Vivlamore of the AJC
Thrashers Blog:

“I reached across with my right
arm. I just tried
to get a piece of him. It happened the way it happened. By no means did I
mean to hit him
high. I’ve always been a guy that with my hits my arms are down. I hit
with my shoulder. I keep my arms in and try to hit the way I’m supposed
to. This one time, I got caught in a head-to-head going at him and he
gave me a couple moves and I just tried to get a piece of him and I paid
the price.”

Armstrong is known for his ability to lay out big open ice hits,
and it was obvious he made a mistake here. That he admits to playing the
hit wrong is perhaps most telling; like Ovechkin’s hit on Campbell, it
wasn’t that it was overtly dirty play is that it was a dangerous and
reckless one.

The NHL says it’s serious about cutting down on head shots, yet refused to years ago to outright ban all such hits. Now it’s starting to come down hard on borderline hits in the face of public scrutiny.

Until the NHL decides to actually be proactive in these matters, the league will forever be a joke when it comes to supplementary discipline.

Scroll Down For:

    Report: Finnish goalie Sateri eyeing NHL after strong showing at Worlds

    Getty
    Leave a comment

    Harri Sateri, the former Sharks prospect that’s spent the last three years in the KHL, is reportedly looking to come back to North America.

    Per Finnish news outlet Iltalheti, Sateri shot down an extension with his current club, Vityaz Podolsk, to try and land an NHL gig.

    The 27-year-old’s decision comes after a pretty solid showing with his native Finland at the World Hockey Championship. There, Sateri split time with Columbus’ Joonas Korpisalo, finishing with a .915 save percentage and 2.26 GAA. He posted a 26-save shutout in a surprising quarterfinal win over the U.S.

    Sateri’s also been good in Russia as well. Last season, he finished with a .929 save percentage and 2.50 GAA in 42 games.

    It’ll be interesting to see if he can find a gig this summer. Sateri was originally San Jose’s fourth-round pick (106th overall) at the 2008 draft, but spent all four of his years in North America with the club’s AHL affiliate.

    In his final season, he lost out on the gig as Antti Niemi’s backup to Alex Stalock in the preseason.

    Kelly or Wingels will replace White for Senators in Game 7

    Getty
    Leave a comment

    Either Chris Kelly or Tommy Wingels will replace Colin White for the Ottawa Senators tonight.

    White, 20, made his NHL playoff debut in Game 6, but he only took seven shifts and logged 2:39 of ice time.

    Clearly, head coach Guy Boucher didn’t trust the rookie in such a big game.

    Tonight in Pittsburgh, it’s an even bigger game. Win and it’s off to the Stanley Cup Final. Lose and that’s it for the season.

    Kelly, 36, and Wingels, 29, have each played their share of big games. Kelly went to a Cup final with the Sens in 2007, and he went to a couple more with the Bruins. Wingels played for the Cup last year with the Sharks.

    “They both have lived seven games, and they both have won seven games,” said Boucher. “So those are the two guys we need to have out there.”

    Kelly has only played once this postseason, all the way back in the first round against Boston. But with Derick Brassard seemingly unable to take faceoffs, Kelly may draw in because he’s a center.

    “It will all depend if it’s a center or winger I’m going to need,” said Boucher.

    Related: Schultz and Hornqvist will be game-time decisions; Sheary may play

    Carolina has the ‘open for business sign out there’

    Getty
    1 Comment

    Ron Francis is ready to make more deals.

    Heading into the offseason, Francis had 11 draft picks at this June’s draft, and already used one — a third-rounder — to acquire Scott Darling from Chicago.

    Now, the Hurricanes GM is prepared to use more in the hopes of adding to the roster.

    “We’ve got the open for business sign out there,” Francis said Wednesday, per the News & Observer. “We’re in a unique situation with the amount of picks we have and the amount of prospects we have. It’ll be interesting.

    “Really what it comes down to is what teams want: Do they want a player back for the asset they don’t have to protect or are they willing to take some picks and prospects?”

    It’s pretty obvious the goal for Francis and head coach Bill Peters is to get the ‘Canes back into the playoffs for the first time since 2009. The team has shown steady improvement over the last three years — going from 30 to 35 to 36 wins — and had a nice late push before ultimately falling short this season.

    “I think we have specific needs, very specific needs,” Peters said at Carolina’s end-of-year media availability. “So as a coach I’m going to give very specific names.”

    It sounds like more than just picks could be in play.

    The News & Observer said the ‘Canes “aren’t agonizing” over the expansion draft, as the team has a pretty good idea of who’ll be exposed. So it could be a case of identifying the players that will remain, and seeing what assets they may fetch in return.

    There’s been speculation that the Hurricanes might be willing to move Noah Hanifin. Though it might seem strange to dangle a gifted 20-year-old d-man with loads of potential, Carolina has good depth on the blueline with Justin Faulk, Jaccob Slavin and Brett Pesce. It’s expected that prospects Roland McKeown and Haydn Fleury will push for NHL jobs next year, and there’s still ’16 first-rounder Jake Bean on the horizon.

    Francis also has another asset at his disposal — cap space.

    It’s what allowed the ‘Canes to snag Teuvo Teravainen from Chicago for the price of taking on Bryan Bickell‘s contract. Another similar move could very well be in the cards, especially when the NHL releases next year’s cap ceiling figure.

    Report: ‘All signs point’ to contract extension for Ducks’ Fowler

    Getty
    4 Comments

    “All signs point toward” a contract extension for Anaheim Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler, according to TSN’s Pierre LeBrun.

    LeBrun reported this morning that talks between the Ducks and the 25-year-old defenseman are expected to resume next week. Talks so far have been “positive,” said LeBrun.

    It won’t be cheap to re-sign Fowler, who can become an unrestricted free agent next summer. He’s coming off a 39-point season for the Ducks, and he logged almost 25 minutes per game.

    If Fowler does agree to re-sign, he’ll obviously be protected in the expansion draft, along with Hampus Lindholm. Assuming the Ducks only protect three defensemen, that would only leave one spot to protect Sami Vatanen, Josh Manson, or Kevin Bieksa — and the latter has a no-movement clause, which for now demands he be protected.

    For that reason, Bieksa will likely be asked to waive his NMC. It’s also possible he could be bought out.

    Anaheim does have the option to protect four defensemen and four forwards. However, Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, and Ryan Kesler all have NMCs, and the Ducks won’t want to expose Rickard Rakell or Jakob Silfverberg.

    Related: Big decisions looming for Ducks