There are different schools of thought on the hit. Ryan Miller wants the culture of the game changed to get away from dirty or nasty hits (Hjarlmarsson’s hit wasn’t dirty – it was nasty), and along with the Sabres wanted something done about it.
Matt Barnaby and the Chicago Blackhawks don’t know what all the fuss is about.
In is defense, Niklas Hjalmarsson is not a dirty player. He doesn’t see the inside of the penalty box enough for that to even come to mind. The most penalized he ever was in North America was 53 minutes with the Rockford IceHogs of the AHL. There was no malicious intent at all.
The game is a fast game, had the play developed differently, the hit would either not of happened, or would not have been that bad. But it happened, and we are talking about it.
So the league reviewed the hit, and met with Niklas, and handed out a two game suspension. Whoops. Hjalmarsson returns to action against the Buffalo Sabres Saturday night.
But what should the league have done? With his return on Saturday night, you know Patrick Kaleta will be buzzing around just waiting for Hjalmarsson to step onto the ice. The Sabres will be in some trouble if he goes head hunting and specifically looks to hit Hjalmarsson, instead of just creaming him in the normal course of play. Eye for an eye is the policing factor on the ice – you know the Sabres will be looking for some flesh.
What had happened if the league had done nothing? The Sabres would head into Saturday looking to exact more revenge than now. What happens if the suspend him longer? The Sabres will look to hit another player on the roster to make the ‘Hawks pay.
Many people scream for suspensions that match the injury. If a guy injures a player and he’s out for ten games, then the infracting player should miss ten games. That will never fly, because what happens when Ovechkin puts out a guy like McCormick? It doesn’t make the infraction any less, but the NHL won’t lose a star with marketing power for the same length as a minor role player.
Two games is a fair suspension for a guy who will probably not see the inside of Campbell’s office again. Lets just hope the Sabres are careful when exacting on ice revenge – because we know how loose it can get on the ice when we want revenge.