Evgeni Malkin got an instigator penalty at the end of Game 2, but what should be a one-game suspension was rescinded quickly by the league. (Getty Images)
• Seeing as the NHL is in for a penny as well as a pound(ing) when it comes to selectively applied supplementary discipline – as it was in record time following Game 2 of the Stanley Cup final between Detroit and Pittsburgh Sunday night – it ought to follow through on its collective convictions and entirely rescind its rulebook.
I’m serious. If the league doesn’t give a whit about projecting an image as the Bermuda Triangle of professional sports suspensions, fully embracing that label and turning each and every game into a Lost-like mystery show where nobody can guess how storylines will unfold is the logical next step.
Think of the new and fascinating aspects of hockey a rule-less NHL would create.
Players could carry around stainless steel forks inside their gloves and carve the foreheads of opponents a la pro wrestler Abdullah The Butcher.
Referees (who would remain in the picture mainly for image purposes, the way Brett Hull will be in Dallas again) could slap multiple game misconduct penalties on NHLers at the start of a first period, chief disciplinarian Colin Campbell could reverse those decisions in the second intermission and players could be back on the ice by the beginning of the third.
Teams not in the habit of getting their goon on could agree to a Sudoku showdown in lieu of a “message-sending” fight.
Any discipline system other than the NHL’s current one would be less of a sham. The rot of relativism has sunk so deep into the league’s floorboards, it’s a wonder Ty Pennington hasn’t shown up on its doorstep with a battalion of band saws and a crap load of lumber.
I’ve got no interest in painting Penguins superstar Evgeni Malkin as Public Enemy No. 1. In skating up to Henrik Zetterberg and allowing his frustrations to boil over, he made a dumb move and ultimately got away with it, much like Detroit’s Marian Hossa did Sunday when he interfered with Pascal Dupuis on the play that led to the Wings’ game-winning goal.
However, let’s say Malkin cold-cocked and concussed Zetterberg, knocking him out of the lineup for the remainder of the series. Would Campbell’s supplementary discipline verdict have been rendered so quickly – and with such tacit compassion for the aggressor?
Somehow, I doubt it. But really, who knows what the NHL will do anymore?
Other than embarrass itself each and every playoff, I mean.
THN.com's Playoff Blogs, featuring analysis and opinion on the action from the night before, with insight on what happened and what it all means going forward, will appear daily throughout the NHL playoffs. Read more entries HERE.
Adam Proteau, co-author of the book The Top 60 Since 1967, is writer and columnist for The Hockey News and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Mondays, his Ask Adam feature appears Fridays and his column, Screen Shots, appears Thursdays.
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