After all, Sean Avery of the Dallas Stars got six games for telling an admittedly off-color sex joke, but excessively dangerous hits have resulted in (generally) suspensions around two games.
The WCHA appears to be heading down the road of randomness, too.
On January 30, Minnesota defenseman Brian Schack took offense to a hit from behind by Minnesota State's Channing Boe. Attacking Boe from behind wasn't enough. Schack took it a step farther, and a few steps too far.
Schack received a major penalty and a game disqualification, meaning he would be required to sit out the Gophers' next game.
He did not receive any supplemental discipline from the university or the WCHA.
In that same game, Minnesota State captain Trevor Bruess tried to behead Gopher Tony Lucia. Bruess received a major penalty and was given a game disqualification. He, too, was not given any supplementary discipline.
Saturday night, Bruess was involved in another controversial play. Be warned that this video is not easy on the eyes. North Dakota defenseman Derrick Lapoint will miss the rest of the season as a result of this play.
Thursday afternoon, Bruess was suspended for one game. Here is the statement from the WCHA on the suspension, which I received via e-mail.
The Western Collegiate Hockey Association, in conjunction with Minnesota State University, Mankato, announced today (Feb. 19, 2009) that Mavericks’ junior forward Trevor Bruess has been suspended for one game as a result of recent in-game incidents the league feels are detrimental to the game.I have no problem with the concept of a suspension here. Bruess has been overly physical on many occasions, and it's a good idea to sit a kid like that down before things spiral out of control.
The supplemental disciplinary action was taken after discussions between officials at Minnesota State University, Mankato and WCHA Commissioner Bruce M. McLeod.
“We need Trevor to understand that he needs to make every possible effort to avoid these types of incidents and want to emphasize to him that he is responsible for his actions on the ice,” said McLeod. “We hope he will use this as both an educational experience and as a time to reflect on his play.
“In addition, Trevor will be required to meet for a one-on-one session with WCHA Supervisor of Officials Greg Shepherd.
“We also want to use this occasion to again let all of our conference-member student-athletes know that the game must be played not only within the rules but within the spirit of the rules at all times,” added McLeod, “and that players are responsible for conducting themselves in a proper manner. Player safety is a prime concern of this Association.”
Bruess will be required to serve his one-game suspension during Minnesota State’s next scheduled game against Nebraska-Omaha on Feb. 24.
I also didn't have a problem with the one-game suspension of Denver's Patrick Mullen for a stupid two-hand slash at UMD's Mike Connolly February 7.
But in light of these two suspensions, I'm again compelled to ask:
Why the hell wasn't Schack suspended?
There isn't a YouTube of Mullen's slash, and I'm not here to defend it. I'm also not here to defend the pattern of aggressive behavior Bruess has developed. Bruess' hit on Lapoint was borderline at best and probably should have been penalized. The hit on Lucia was disgraceful and probably deserved a suspension by itself.
What all four plays have in common is that they have absolutely no place in the game of hockey. I understand that game disqualifications were handed out to Schack for his stunt and Bruess for his hit on Lucia, but that's not enough. The WCHA can't issue a statement talking about player safety less than a month after they allowed one of their players to injure another with intent and only get the mandatory one-game ban that comes along with a game disqualification.
All it does is open up the criticism that the league treats the Gophers differently than everyone else ... that Schack would have been suspended for an appropriate period of time (six to eight games) if he played for, say, Michigan Tech.
If the league doesn't want to be criticized like that, perhaps they should stop acting in ways that lend credibility to that stance.