From the CHL's Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, one of the more bizarre and interesting suspension cases that you're going to find happened over the weekend. It was in a game between the Moncton Wildcats and the Halifax Mooseheads that a player broke the jaw of an opposing player -- and it might be been an accident.
Ross Johnston of Moncton and Brian Lovell of Halifax had a little shoving match as they approached the boards following the puck. It was then that Johnston's stick seemed to get wedged between the glass and, with a couple of might tugs, he was eventually able to free it.
But when Johnston yanked the stick free, it connected right up side Lovell's face. With a swing so fierce, it's no surprise that it resulted in a broken jaw for Lovell. But it's hard to tell if it was on purpose.
The interesting thing that makes me inclined to believe it was not on purpose is the lack of reaction from Johnston. It's almost as if he didn't even know he had made contact with Lovell's face; he whipped the stick so fast that it probably wasn't too noticeable. Or you could say that he must have known, so his lack of reaction is him trying to conceal what he had done.
But remember when Keith Ballard was with the Panthers and, out of frustration, smacked Tomas Vokoun (his own goalie!) upside the head after Florida gave up a goal? In that case, it was clearly unintentional. Yet Ballard seemed completely unaware of what he had done. When you swing with all your might, you sometimes don't notice impediments.
It's also some bad timing. Lovell had fallen to the ice and was just getting back on his skates when the stick came flying by and into his head. If the timing is off one way or another by a few miliseconds, probably nothing happens. That lands me further in the accident department.
Either way, it's bizarre.
Accident or not, the video was sent to league officials and Johnston has been suspended indefinitely. After all, a player is responsable for his stick at all times, so he does shoulder same of the blame even if he was just an unknowing attacker.
The Chronicle Herald not only has some on the ruling but also has a different angle of the play -- including slo-mo of impact.
In the release, [Raymond Bolduc, the league's director of player safety] said a final decision will be rendered after he has "viewed the videos of the incident, taken into consideration the medical report, spoken to the players and organizations involved and after consulting the disciplinary committee as well as his senior adviser, Sebastien Bordeleau."
The bad news for Lovell is that he's out 4-6 weeks dealing with the broken jaw. The question that remains is how long Johnston will join him on the sidelines. In that second video from the Chronicle Herald, it appears Johnston saw what he was doing at impact or was at least looking that direction. So who knows?
If you were to play the part of Bolduc/Brendan Shanahan, how many games would be inclined to give Johnston?
S/t to Buzzing the Net