The fact both players received the exact same punishment in terms of games lost will surely have its share of critics. After all, Wisniewski's gesture, while ridiculous and surely offensive to somebody, didn't result in anybody getting injured or have the potential to injure. It was certainly worthy of discipline, but is it really the same as hitting somebody from behind while they're not possessing the puck?
In the world of NHL discipline, it appears so.
Following practice on Tuesday, Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller spoke out on hits like Hjalmarsson's. Said Miller, via the Associated Press, "You can't have a hit like that, it's dangerous. I'm glad he admitted he didn't mean to do it. But you've got to change the culture some time, and I hope the league wakes up and sets a precedent for the year."
When writing about the Wisniewski incident on Monday, I mentioned Avery's own escapades with sexual innuendo when he called a press conference with the intention of insulting Dion Phaneuf and Elisha Cuthbert. The NHL suspended him six games for it, while the Dallas Stars essentially banished him from their organization. As others have pointed out over the past 24 hours -- and it's a very valid point -- Avery's suspension was so harsh, in part, because it was a premeditated verbal attack on two different people, one of which had nothing to do with the NHL, whie Wisniewski's was an in-game, heat-of-the-moment gesture. So there's clearly a difference, and not hard to see why the punishment for one was harsher than the other.
Still, the fact the NHL issues similar -- or greater -- punishments for gestures like Wisniewski's and hits like Hjalmarsson's is going to be a lightning rod for criticism, as it's essentially the league pulling a Helen Lovejoy and screaming "won't somebody please think of the children?!"