Shocking NHL would get Hossa call wrong

April, 25, 2010

MONTREAL -- Well, here's a shocker.

NHL director of hockey operations Colin Campbell announced Sunday there would be no supplemental discipline for Chicago Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa after he hit Nashville Predators defenseman Dan Hamhuis into the end boards during Saturday's Game 5 of their Western Conference quarterfinal series.

Just another in a staggeringly long line of head-scratchers from the NHL offices in Toronto.

What was the first thing you thought of when you saw Hossa lean in on Hamhuis as they both chased a puck into the corner? The hit on Hossa's teammate, Brian Campbell, courtesy of Alex Ovechkin earlier in the regular season.

In both cases, the offending players seemed to hold up slightly just as contact was made, but the defensemen were off balance enough to be sent hurtling into the boards.

Dangerous? Yes. Reckless? It depends on your definition of reckless.

Of course, in the NHL, where every day is a brand new day, the two incidents end up being treated as though they were from different planets.

Hossa was given a five-minute major for boarding, but stayed in the game and later scored the overtime winner seconds after serving his penalty. On Sunday, he learned he would suffer no further punishment.

Ovechkin was ejected from the March 14 game and then given a two-game suspension once it was learned Campbell had suffered a significant shoulder injury, one that caused him to miss the rest of the regular season.

"I have made the decision that this play does not warrant supplemental discipline after considering all of the facts, including reviewing the video and speaking with Mr. Hossa," Campbell said in a statement.

In a preemptive statement, Campbell also wrote Hossa's incident was different than earlier incidents (read: the Ovechkin hit).

"This play is distinguishable from recent incidents by a number of factors, including the degree of contact involved; the fact that the consequences of the play do not appear to be as severe; that this was a hockey play involving a race for the puck; that Mr. Hossa is not a repeat offender and that the call of a major penalty by the referee was significant and appropriate," Campbell wrote.

The Predators were incensed Hossa wasn't ejected from the game (he could have received the same game misconduct penalty for boarding as Ovechkin did) -- and he should have been. They're no doubt unhappy Hossa will play in Monday's Game 6 in Nashville -- and he shouldn't. He should have been suspended for one game.

But Campbell's follies continue unabated. Not that anything surprises us at this point when it comes to trying to make sense of the league's disciplinary policy.

Carry on.

Scott Burnside

ESPN Senior Writer


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