The Wisniewski suspension bugs the hell out of me. I couldn't find video of the incident online, but I watched the highlight and one game is, quite frankly, a joke. Even if you believe Samuelsson provoked Wisniewski (definitely) or embellished the cross-check (probably), it doesn't change the fact that Wisniewski knowingly smacked an opponent near the head with his stick -- if Samuelsson had been injured, this would have been Jesse Boulerice Part Deux.
So why did he get just one game? The standards, practices and politics of suspensions for the NHL are a state secret according to Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News, who writes that the League does "not discuss suspensions or the process involved in reviewing them." And he believes that the behind-closed-doors manner of dishing out discipline needs to come to an end.
So we ask are left to ask all sorts of questions, like why three games? Is it because of the injury Leopold suffered? He was diagnosed with concussion-like symptoms and missed a game, but Ott said he was told at the hearing that Leopold was symptom-free on Tuesday. And if injury is the reason for the three-game suspension, then how is it that Philadelphia's Randy Jones only got a two-game suspension for a hit on Boston's Patrice Bergeron that knocked Bergeron out for the season?Actually, Mike, it would be impossible, because then the League's muddled, politicized and constantly fluctuating standards of enforcement would become public record. The only way to climb out of this rabbit hole is with "mandatory minimums" for certain infractions like head-shots -- but that's just not something the NHLPA will support.
The irony of this league is it badly needs fans to want to follow hockey, and the marketing machine and PR departments and broadcasters and players are trying hard to sell the game – to make fans care. And, then, when they finally do care, they are told that they are not entitled to simple explanations for questions that they have. It seems like a contradiction. Certainly, there are subjects that must remain behind closed doors, but supplemental discipline hardly seems like one of them. There have been fewer than 20 suspensions this season. How hard would it be to write out a memo and explain the thinking behind each?