Ex-NHL referee: Keith deserved match penalty for deliberate attempt to injure, should get minimum five-game suspension

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According to former NHL referee Kerry Fraser, the punishment levied against Duncan Keith didn’t fit the crime.

That’s what Fraser wrote on his TSN.ca blog Thursday in the wake of Keith’s headshot on Vancouver’s Daniel Sedin — the Chicago defenseman received a two-minute elbowing penalty on a hit that forced Sedin out of the contest and left him with a suspected concussion.

Fraser says the referees working the game, Dan O’Halloran and Francois St. Laurent, got the call wrong.

The deliberate elbow delivered by Duncan Keith directly to the head of Daniel Sedin was at bare minimum a five-minute major and game misconduct for elbowing. The best call would have been a match penalty under Rule 45.5 for deliberate attempt to injure under the elbowing rule!

Duncan Keith demonstrated absolutely no intent on playing the puck that flew off the glass and was well out of range of Sedin when contact was made. Instead, once the opportunity for a payback on Daniel’s non-penalized shoulder contact to Keith’s head six and a half minutes earlier reared its ugly head, Duncan Keith seized the moment in an open-ice assault.  

As Daniel turned to look up ice and follow the puck, Duncan Keith’s elbow was elevated, cocked and planted with force directly to the head of a surprised Daniel Sedin.

The issue of retribution has come up on numerous occasions. It will be interesting to see how NHL discipline czar Brendan Shanahan views Keith’s motives, as it was Shanahan that suspended Boston’s Brad Marchand for a “predatory” low-bridge hit on Vancouver’s Sami Salo in January.

The word “predatory” was key because Shanahan believed the hit was in response to an earlier shoulder-check from Salo.

“This scenario played out 16 seconds earlier,” Shanahan said at the time. “Marchand was able to deliver and absorb a clean check on Salo, but Marchand shows clear frustration from the hit. Retribution is not a defense for clipping a player.”

If Shanahan is looking for advice on suspensions, Fraser has a few ideas. He feels Keith should get a “minimum” five-game suspension and Sedin should get one for his “careless” hit.