Me thinks the NHL’s chief disciplinarian owes a big thank you to Tim Gleason. You know, for sucking it up.
See the Carolina Hurricanes defenseman missed only two shifts from the knee-on-knee hit delivered Monday by Washington’s Alex Ovechkin and seen on all kinds of highlight reels since. And that made it a whole lot easier for Colin Campbell to limit the league’s best player to a two-game suspension.
It could have been longer. Campbell nailed Montreal’s Georges Laraque with five games a couple of weeks ago for a knee-on-knee mainly because it sidelined Detroit’s Niklas Kronwall for the next two months. But since Gleason wasn’t hurt, and Campbell didn’t feel obliged to follow that precedent.
Obviously the league doesn’t really want its most dynamic attraction sitting out. But Ovechkin always plays close to the edge and often over it, enough for his own coach to calls him “reckless,” so Campbell couldn’t avoid punishing the two-time MVP entirely. He’s done that too often in the past, keeping Ovechkin from being branded a repeat offender, but only because his previous indiscretions – and there have been several – have drawn slaps on the wrist.
Ovechkin has been fined what is the equivalent of pocket change at different times in his career for slew foots and hits from behind. But he’s never been suspended, even when he took Pittsburgh’s Sergei Gonchar out of two playoff games last spring with a knee-on-knee hit.
This time, there was no choice if only to help dispel the perception that different rules apply to Stars and fringe players.
Campbell had to suspend the Capitals superstar, just not for too long. Thanks to Gleason.