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Tuesday January 11, 2011 5:15 am

Tom Kostopousos receives six games, Brad Stuart receives six weeks




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

Tom KostopoulosWhen Calgary’s Tom Kostopoulos hit Detroit’s Brad Stuart in the head during a game last week, NHL disciplinarian Colin Campbell came down quickly with a six-game suspension. Whether you think six games is too few considering Stuart will be gone six weeks is open to debate, but you have to give the NHL credit for at least recognizing  the growing concern and danger surrounding head hits and attempting to abate them. Whether that’s working or not is a different matter.

The league argues criticisms of such short suspensions by reminding people that players must forfeit their salaries as well as games. Kostopoulos will lose $29,569.92 in salary while he watches the next six Flames games on his television. It’s a fair argument. While that kind of money is far more than what most of us make in two weeks, it still has to be difficult for Kostopoulos to watch that kind of money slip through his fingers.

The problem here isn’t so much the individual case with Kostopoulos; it’s actually that since the NHL has adopted this zero tolerance policy, we’re still seeing a staggering number of hits to the head. It seems that some of the players are not deterred by losing thousands of dollars and several games. In fact, Kostopoulos himself is a repeat offender. This isn’t so much a “when will he learn?” question as it is “when will the league learn?”

The league should look into additional kinds of punishment. Whether it’s increasing the number of suspension games, perhaps while not taking the entirety of a player’s salary, or fining the team in some way, whether that is monetarily or with draft picks if the situation is bad enough, the league needs to send a stronger message. Even a progressive punishment system for repeat offenders might help. The NHL says that head hits will not be tolerated, but they’re showing that they will only not be tolerated after they happen, not before.

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