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Wednesday October 13, 2010 5:13 am

Hand gestures and hits from behind worth equal suspensions

Posted by Adrien Griffin Categories: Athletes, Injuries, NHL,

Jason PominvilleColin Campbell was busy on Tuesday, handing out a number of suspensions. Among the hit list was James Wisniewski of the Islanders for his obscene gesture towards Sean Avery, as well as Niklas Hjalmarsson on Chicago for his blind hit from behind against Jason Pominville, which resulted in Pominville's being carried off the ice on a stretcher. Both Wisniewski and Hjalmarsson were suspended for a pair of games for their individual and fundamentally different rule infractions.

Basically, the NHL is telling us that these two events are equal in their offensiveness. Meanwhile, Sean Avery - formerly the league's poster boy for inappropriate actions - will continue to play for the Rangers while Pominville continues to recover from a concussion and cut above his eye. The notion that Hjalmarsson should be suspended until Pominville recovers is ridiculous, but at the other end of the spectrum, so is a two-game suspension for one of the most aggressively debated infractions in today's hockey culture.

What if Pominville had broken his neck? Would the NHL have given Hjalmarsson just two games? In reality, Pominville's injury has nothing to do with the hit put on him. Some argue that Pominville was out of position and not ready to take the hit; that he was using the boards to his advantage. He should know better because he's been taught to know where the defensemen are. Regardless, Hjalmarsson's attack was dirty and while he claims he wasn't trying to injure Pominville, there's no doubt that in the moment he was trying to hit him as hard as he could to get the puck back for his team.

Wisniewski's gesture was inappropriate, but only suspension-worthy because it was caught live. You won't convince anybody that even playful actions like his don't occur all the time in the dressing room. Meanwhile, Pominville is out for more than two games at the least. Hjalmarsson has to know that hits from behind are the focus of the NHL and the media lately, and he has no excuse delivering one. Unfortunately, he doesn't have enough time off to really consider the consequences of his actions before he gets back on the ice.



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