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McKenzie: Pleasantly surprised by Brashear suspension

Bob McKenzie
4/27/2009 10:18:53 PM
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Wow, I'm surprised. Pleasantly surprised, but surprised nonetheless.

I didn't expect Washington's Donald Brashear to get a five-game suspension for the blindside hit on Blair Betts that not only concussed the New York Ranger but broke his orbital bone.

I would have thought, given it's the playoffs, the suspension would have been for one or two games. Conventional hockey wisdom, whether you agree with it or not, is that playoff games are worth two regular-season games in suspension currency.

If you subscribe to that, it's arguably the equivalent of a 10-game regular-season suspension.

Far more than the two regular-season games Matt Cooke got for decking Scott Walker and the three games assessed to Chicago's Ben Eager for his blindside elbow on Liam Reddox.

Walker and Reddox both suffered head injuries on those plays, but they were not as severely injured as Betts, which likely explains the discrepancy.

Some may want to argue that intent, as opposed to injury, should be the primary factor in assessing suspensions. Perhaps. But in the meantime, it's encouraging the Brashear sentence is stiff.

The NHL should do everything possible to maintain a high level of body contact in the game, but it should also be vigilant in policing gratuitous cheap shots that target the head. Punishing obvious hits like Brashear's won't diminish contact in hockey. The sky is not falling.

There's a line, and Brashear crossed it.

And the price he's paying isn't nearly as great as the one being experienced by Blair Betts.

Bob McKenzie

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