Monday, November 10, 2008

Suspend or not to suspend that will be the question

While they were celebrating the players of the past on Saturday night in Montreal as part of the Hall of Fame game, it was the actions of the current players on the ice that had everyone talking by the end of the night.

In a game that featured more than a few incidences of close to over the line behaviour, a particularly nasty hit during Saturday nights Toronto/Montreal game is once again stoking the fires about hits from behind and respect for the players on the ice.

Thirteen minutes into the first period, the Canadiens Tom Kostopulous rammed the Leafs Mike Van Ryn into the end boards. A hit that left Van Ryn prone on the ice and eventually removed to the dressing room, the hospital and the eventual fate of a neck brace and some time away from the rink.

For his hit, Kostopulous was assessed a number of incremental penalties including his expulsion from the game, a move that didn't do much to lower the intensity of the play for the remainder of the game.

The question now is should Kostopulous be provided with a lengthy suspension by the NHL head office, or was the incident just the normal degree of on ice behavior that has become common in the league.

Some suggest that he was just finishing his check, others that he was taking advantage of a player in a vulnerable position. Will the NHL decide that Van Ryn carelessly turned away at just before the time of impact, or will they have to accept the idea that he was the latest victim of a growing fear of disregard for the personal safety of the players on the ice.

Those are the thoughts that the NHL will have to weigh, whether to accept the vision of a player laying on the ice waiting for medical attention as a normal course of the game or working to try and reign in the violence to a more responsible nature.

Colin Campbell has a fair amount of thinking to do on this issue, the league's most valuable resources are its players, if the league isn't inclined to take care of them, one wonders what the future of the game will eventually look like...

Globe and Mail-- Time to crack down on the careless
National Post-- Kostopoulos awaits his fate after Van Ryn hit
National Post-- Van Ryn to miss a month after hit from behind
London Free Press-- Hit from behind stirs up debate NHL TO TAKE CLOSER LOOK AT KOSTOPOULOS' HIT ON VAN RYN
Toronto Star-- Injury to Van Ryn has Leafs looking for justice

Update: NHL suspends Tom Kostopulous for three games on Monday for his hit of Saturday night.

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