NHL Senior Vice President of Player Safety, Brendan Shanahan, announced this afternoon that Duncan Keith has been suspended for the next 5 games for his elbow to the head on Daniel Sedin. The incident occurred during the first period of Wednesday night’s match-up between the Hawks and Canucks at the United Center in Chicago.
To me, 5 games seems a bit harsh, and I’m not just saying that because I am a Blackhawks fan. After going back and looking at some of the previous incidents that resulted in suspensions of less than 5 games this year, this one seems a bit drastic. Yes, Keith definitely deserved a suspension. There is no doubt about that. I, however, thought that it should have been more along the lines of a 3-game suspension. Here is my reason why:
This past Tuesday night in Dallas, Shane Doan of the Phoenix Coyotes delivered an elbow to the head of Jamie Benn. As the replay shows, Doan clearly intentionally stuck out his elbow to try and make contact with Benn (Video: Doan’s hit on Benn). Only about a week before that, Doan was fined by the NHL for a boarding penalty that he took. For the elbow to the head on Benn, Doan only received a 3-game suspension, even though he is a “repeat offender.” Granted, Jamie Benn did not suffer any injury on the play.
If you watch the replay of Duncan Keith’s hit on Daniel Sedin and compare it to Doan’s hit on Jamie Benn, they are pretty similar incidents (Video: Keith’s hit on Sedin). Yes, Daniel Sedin now apparently has a concussion and Benn does not, but if you are going to give Doan just 3 games for what he did, Keith should have gotten 3 as well; 4 at the most. Also, this is Keith’s first offense, whereas Doan has a history with this stuff.
I dislike the fact that the NHL takes into consideration whether or not the victim was injured in plays like these. Regardless of the outcome of the hit, it’s still an illegal hit! Punish the guys who deliver the hits for the hit itself. Don’t add games onto the suspension if the victim ends up being hurt. I’m not saying that this is the case at all with Daniel Sedin, but what if he and the Canucks are “faking” his concussion? What if they want Sedin to look injured just so that Keith misses a few extra games via his suspension? Again, I am in no way implying that this is what the Canucks are doing, but it is possible that some team could do that in the future. Because of that possibility in and of itself, I don’t think injuries should be taken into consideration when deciding how many games to suspend someone.
I will say again that I totally agree with suspending Duncan Keith, but I think that 5 games is a bit much. Now the Blackhawks are without their best forward, Jonathan Toews, and their best defenseman, Duncan Keith, for the most important stretch of the season. There is still no word on when Toews might return.
Thanks for reading.