The National Hockey League has come down hard on Blue Jackets defensemen Jan Hejda by serving him a two game suspension after his eblow on Chicago's Marcus Kruger. The play occurred as Kruger entered the Blue Jackets zone, and Hejda compensated for the distance between them by throwing his elbow forward, unfortunately into Kruger's head. No reasoning was given from the NHL, who usually explains their verdict based on certain criteria, however, the opinion of Scott Howson via @APortzline seemed telling enough;
#CBJ GM Scott Howson: "These are the hits the league is trying to eliminate. But I don't think the league believes there was anything ... "
More Howson: "... intentional on Jan's part. He was trying to stop the player's progress. He's quite a bit taller, and contact was made."
The hit can be seen on Kukla's Korner, as it was not severe enough to make it to YouTube.
Those comments by Howson are what ends up making me the most frustrated, especially as a fan. If there was no intent, and it was just an unfortunate situation, how is it possible that Hejda receives more than the two minute elbowing minor assessed on the play? Furthermore, later in the game, Marion Hossa skated Calvert all the way into the boards, then drove him in from behind. He received a boarding minor on the play because he 'didn't intend to do it' yet no suspension is lingering for Hossa.
At another point in the game, Patrick Kane 'unintentionally' dropped his stick down onto Marc Methot's face, causing cuts to Methot's nose and just under his eye, forcing him to head through the tunnel to receive stitches. A four minute double minor was assessed, and I would argue that this was both the most dangerous action of the game, and the one most deserving of a suspension.
I also want to link the current list of suspensions handed out by the NHL this year so far, and draw some comparables to Hejda's two game suspensions;
These are all the two game suspensions, and I am fairly confident you will find video and intent in each of them. After reviewing the list, it makes me wonder if the NHL is afraid to deal out one game suspensions. I could arguably look at over 75% of those examples as hits that had twice as much intent and twice as much severity.
In short, I think this suspension was brutal. Hejda is a player who rarely finds his name on the penalty list, with only 28 penalty minutes in 75 games played this year. He does not play on edge and rarely is found dealing out punishing checks. It was simply a play that he misread and extended where he should not have, but I believe there was zero intent. I suspect if this were to happen to an original six team the outrage would be substantial, but alas, the disadvantage of being an expansion team continues.
Carry the Flag!