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THN.com Blog: Puzzling pieces around hockey

Milan Lucic avoided suspension, but not a fine, for his sucker punch on Freddy Meyer. (Photo by Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)

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Milan Lucic avoided suspension, but not a fine, for his sucker punch on Freddy Meyer. (Photo by Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)

Here at THN.com, we’re supposed to be the experts. But I’m here to tell you there are some things about this game of which we’ll never be able to make sense.

Here are some of them. For the life of me, I can’t figure out…

• …exactly what goes through the minds sometimes of those who administer justice in the NHL. The league’s power brokers claim to have nothing but disdain for the ridiculous fights that break out after clean hits, then fine Milan Lucic a paltry $2,500 for sucker punching Freddy Meyer during a brawl that was precipitated by a perfectly clean hit by Meyer on Lucic in a game Thursday night.

The table was set perfectly for supplementary discipline when Lucic received a match penalty and game misconduct for his act of miscreance. What makes this so difficult to understand is that by fining Lucic, the league has basically acknowledged that what Lucic did was punishable. But by fining and not suspending him, the sentence was a complete joke which provided absolutely no deterrent.

The entire thing defies logic. Let’s assume for a moment that the NHL was so lenient on Lucic because it agrees with those who think Meyer’s hit was a head shot. If that’s the case, then why penalize Lucic at all? In fact, if the hit was a head shot, then why did Meyer not receive any supplementary discipline?

How much of a joke was Lucic’s penalty? Well, let’s put it this way. Lucic will earn $4 million this season, which means he earns $21,505.37 per day based on the 186-day NHL season, or $896.06 per hour based on a 24-hour day. That means Lucic had basically paid his fine for sucker punching Meyer (he received an additional $1,000 fine for making an obscene gesture to the Thrashers bench) less than four hours after it was levied.

Yup, that should keep a lid on the fights after clean hits.

• …how anyone in their right mind could have possibly considered Canada to be an underdog going into the World Junior Championship.

Perhaps this team isn’t as star-studded as Canadian teams in the past, but a plucky underdog? Please.

There are basically four teams in the WJC that have a realistic chance of winning it every year – Canada, USA, Russia and Sweden. And when the tournament is held on North American-sized ice in a Canadian border city, there is absolutely no way any Canadian team should ever be regarded as anything but a favorite to win a gold medal.

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The only legitimate underdog in this tournament is Finland, a team that is determined and talented enough to occasionally sneak into medals contention. Switzerland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Norway and Germany are not underdogs because they’re nothing more than extreme longshots.

• …why anyone would ever be a season-ticket holder for the New York Islanders. Not only do you have to watch the second-worst team in the NHL on a regular basis, you’re buying 41 home games where your tickets have almost no value. Including Sunday when a snowstorm that battered the eastern seaboard limited the crowd to just 3,136, the Islanders have had eight announced crowds this season of fewer than 10,000, including four of their past five home games. The hunch here is that Islanders owner Charles Wang will somehow find his way out of his lease with the Nassau Coliseum before it expires in 2015.

• …why the price of the tickets I purchased online for my family for two games in the World Junior Championship had both a “convenience fee” and a three-dollar shipping and handling fee added to them. How on earth can they charge both? If I’m being hit with a convenience fee for ordering online and picking them up at the box office, how can they justify a shipping and handling fee? To where exactly are they being shipped and how much are they being handled?

Oh, wait, I think I can actually figure this one out. Those who run these tournaments have realized that when it’s in Canada or a Canadian border city, the WJC represents an enormous cash grab for everyone but the players who actually play in it.

• …how a team with the top-end talent level of the Anaheim Ducks could be so decidedly mediocre for the better part of the past two years.

Ken Campbell, author of the book
Habs Heroes, is a senior writer for The Hockey News and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog will appear every Monday throughout the season.

For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.

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