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The NHL announced Monday that Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals is suspended for two games following his hit Sunday in Chicago on Brian Campbell 12:16 into the 1st Period. The Capitals won 4-3 in OT. Ovechkin will forfeit $232,645.40 and is now considered a repeat offender for his earlier suspension for kneeing on November 30 on Carolina’s Tim Gleason (and his boarding major / game misconduct on Buffalo’s Patrick Kaleta on November 25 for which he was not suspended).
As Campbell was getting rid of the puck by his own net, Ovechkin shoved him into the boards. Campbell collapsed, and Ovechkin tripped over him. Ovechkin was given a boarding major and game misconduct. Campbell suffered a broken clavicle and broken ribs, though he seemed well enough all things considered when he sat up, and was further evaluated by the team’s medical staff Monday.
NHL disciplinarian Colin Campbell (remember that guy?) called the hit “reckless” when making his ruling on Ovechkin’s suspension. Dictionary.com defines “reckless” as “utterly unconcerned about the consequences of some action.” Sound like any other hit we’ve seen recently?
Surely, when Matt Cooke viciously hammered Marc Savard, he was unconcerned with any of the consequences. He clearly cared nothing for Savard’s injury (diagnosis: season over) and as a repeat offender, he had to know another suspension was possible. Now we all know injuries are quite possible with any hit. Athletes get checked into the board hard. They might slam into the metal pipes that make up the goal. They’re even allowed to punch each other in the face repeatedly for only five minutes in the box. The key is, legal checks usually result in the shoulder, back, or some other pretty sturdy body part taking the brunt of the hit. They even wear mouth guards to protect them in fights.
But Cooke’s hit was to a vulnerable temple, when he wasn’t looking, when he didn’t have the puck, AND with malicious intent. If you watch the hit, Ovechkin clearly hit Campbell with a cheap shot, but it still resembled a legal check. Ovechkin only touched Campbell on the back, an area where normal checks can be used in other circumstances. Campbell just happened to be injured on the play. On a relatively minor hit, Ovechkin was suspended. But Cooke’s hit, which was done with injury in mind since it was guaranteed to result in injury, went unpunished based on one poorly conceived precedent. Really, NHL? Really, Colin Campbell? If you’re going to have hypocrisy worthy of a lawyer who gets into politics, maybe you should be removed from office.