The NHL has suspended Islanders forward Michael Grabner the next two games for a head check he placed on Carolina’s Nathan Gerbe Saturday night. Meanwhile, Colorado’s Cody McLeod has received a five-game suspension for his hit from behind on Detroit’s Niklas Kronwall last Thursday night.
Here is Brendan Shanahan’s explanation for the decision to hand out two games to Grabner:
It’s pretty clear the principle point of contact was the head. Grabner, who has topped out at 12 penalty minutes in the NHL, isn’t exactly a dirty player. Yes, suspensions need to be longer in this league, but this is a prime example of why that first one will usually be short, right or wrong. A guy like Grabner, with no suspension history or negative reputation, will get that benefit when the other player isn’t injured. You can bet this would have been viewed differently if it were, say, Matt Cooke, or Maxim Lapierre. This isn’t a double standard – it’s just a desire to severely punish those who continually cross the line. That’s what needs to be attacked and eliminated.
Not every first suspension will be as short as Grabner’s, though, as McLeod got five games for his check on Kronwall. Here is Shanahan’s explanation for that decision:
The biggest difference is that Kronwall was injured and had to leave the game. Though he says he’s feeling “really good” he missed Detroit’s Saturday night game.
Both received fair suspensions, as far as current NHL standards (lol) go, though the type of hit McLeod threw should be longer in general.
McLeod’s also leaves you wondering why other decisions are handled the way they are. Why should Brent Burns not get suspended for his hit from behind on Brenden Morrow? Why should McLeod get the same length as a guy like Lapierre, who has a lowlight reel of those hits? Consistency, tougher punishments for dangerous hits and meaningfully escalating lengths for repeat offenders is still needed in the NHL.
What do you think: too long, too short, or just right at two games for Michael Grabner and five for Cody McLeod?