NHL suspends Alexander Ovechkin two games for 'reckless' hit on Chicago's Brian Campbell
The NHL has suspended Washington's Alexander Ovechkin two games without pay for what it called a "reckless" hit on Chicago's Brian Campbell on Sunday, a shove that sent Campbell hard into the boards and reportedly might end the valuable defenseman's season.
"Reckless" is the right word for this shove. Campbell had played the puck and was vulnerable. Ovechkin chose to use his considerable muscle to shove a vulnerable player into the boards in a dangerous manner. He plays on the edge, which is one of his strengths, but this time he crossed the boundary between acceptable hockey play and a lack of respect for an opponent. Campbell reportedly has a broken collarbone and might not return this season, a blow to the Blackhawks' playoff hopes. Ovechkin got a major boarding penalty and game misconduct at the time.
Since he was suspended once before -- only once, thanks to the we-don't-hammer-superstars approach of NHL disciplinarians -- Ovechkin is considered a repeat offender under the terms of the collective bargaining agreement and he will lose $232,645.40 in salary, based on the number of games in the season (82), rather than the number of days (193). The money goes to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.
The scales of justice in the NHL swing unpredictably and, sometimes, ludicrously. (See NHL disciplinarian Colin Campbell's faulty reasoning on not suspending Matt Cooke for smashing Boston's Marc Savard last Sunday, that because he didn't suspend Philadelphia's Mike Richards for a shoulder-to-head hit on Florida's David Booth earlier this season, he couldn't penalize Cooke). This one was the right call. It tells superstars that they're not immune from punishment for a dirty play and tells every player that if they can't respect each other enough to avoid incidents like this, someone will have to do it for them and they're going to pay a stiff price.
-- Helene Elliott