According to NHL.com, Anaheim Ducks forward Mike Brown will not face a suspension for his hit on Detroit Red Wings forward Jiri Hudler in game 1 of the NHL's Western Conference Semifinal series between the two teams. Just last week, the NHL suspended Washington Capitals forward Donald Brashear for a hit on the New York Rangers Blair Betts during game 6 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals series, which Washington won 4 games to 3. Brashear's hit was almost identical in nature to the hit doled out by Mike Brown. I stated it was my opinion that the NHL needed to show consistency here, and suspend Brown, and that it should be the same length of time as the suspension handed down to Brashear. That said, It is also my opinon that the NHL's suspension of Brashear was a mistake. Both hits appeared to be clean, and the NHL should have left well enough alone on this to begin with, and there would be no question. The problem that myself, and many others have with the league, is the inconsistency shown by the league in both its officiating, and its discipline. Brashear recieved no penalty on his play, however, Mike Brown recieved a 5 minute major penalty for "interferance", and a game misconduct. (ejection). The one big difference between the two hits was the injuries sustained by the players who were hit. Blair Betts was left out of the series with a broken orbital bone, while Jiri Hudler only suffered a nasty cut to his face, requiring 10 stitches. Hudler would return to the game.
Colin Campbell the NHL's Senior Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations, and disciplinarian was quoted saying the following regarding Brashear's hit:
"Brashear delivered a shoulder hit to an unsuspecting player. It is also my opinion that the hit was delivered late and targeted the head of his opponent, causing significant injury."Take a look at the hits for yourself, they are shown here side by side in this post. There really was no difference between the two. Both were high, both were late, yet the NHL decides that one is worthy of a hefty 6 game suspension, while the other was worth only the calls made on the play by the game official. This inconsistency by the NHL and its officials is one reason why I personally feel the NHL has significant problems appealing to a wider audience. I would personally ask the NHL what the reason for this inconsistency is. Was it the fact that the Caps / Rangers game was nationally televised and had more viewers so the NHL felt compelled to show "the world" something? If that is the case, then why would the NHL not discipline another player on another team for an almost identical action? This is just one of the problems I have with the Gary Bettman era of the NHL. The NHL is making itself look indecisive and inconsistent in front of EVERYONE. Long time fans of hockey and the NHL mostly agree. I will not list them here, but there are numerous websites and blogs out there calling for Bettman to leave the NHL. I can not say that I fully disagree with them. Sure, Bettman has done some good, but so far it seems to me that he has done more harm than anything else. Is it any wonder why Bettmen is heckeled and boooo'ed every time he addresses any venue full of hockey fans? The man is hated by hockey fans about as much as the United States last president was hated by Democrats, and the rest of the planet earth.