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Rangers’ Hagelin Suspended 3 Games – NHL Has Lost Its Mind

Anarchy is running loose in the NHL playoffs, and the craziness seems to have reached all the way to league offices.  Punishment guru Brendan Shanahan has handed down a three-game suspension to Rangers’ rookie Carl Hagelin for his game two hit of Daniel Alfredsson. @JoeBianchino

Bruce Bennett, Getty Images

The NHL playoffs are normally a tough, violent affair.  This year, however, all hell has broken loose.  It started early when Nashville Predator defender Shea Weber grabbed the Red Wings’ Henrik Zetterberg by the back of the head and threw him skull first into the glass – reminiscent of something you’d see in the WWE.  After a league review, Weber was given a $2,500 fine.  The chaos continued with random spurts of chippy play throughout each series, until it exploded early in game two of the Rangers-Senators best of seven.

For it was early in that game that known goon, the Senators’ Matt Carkner, went Green Street Hooligan on the Rangers’ Brian Boyle, catching him up against the boards, sucker punching him, jumping on top of him while he lay on the ice and continuing the assault unabated – That is, until Brandon Dubinsky mustered the courage to defend his teammate.  And things only got more testy from there…

So when Ranger rookie Carl Hagelin placed a high check on Ottawa’s Daniel Alfredsson later in that very game, everyone knew it was a penalty.  What we didn’t know is that it was going to cost the speedster three games of his team’s playoff campaign.  The NHL handed down the punishment Sunday night after meeting with Hagelin in the afternoon.  Also handed down was a one-game ban for Carkner.

And now, I’m confused – as I so often am when the NHL league office does… well, anything.  In the spirit of openness let me say this: I am a Ranger fan, and Hagelin’s hit was an elbow to Alfredsson’s head – a violation that runs perpendicular to the NHL’s war on concussions.  However, in the spirit of logic and good reason, let me say this: What the hell is the NHL doing?

Let me get this sorted out, here.  I can deliberately throw a man head first into the boards – HEAD FIRST – and walk away with little more than a fine amounting to the tax on last night’s dinner bill.  I can commit aggravated assault, with no means to a hockey end in mind – in laymen’s terms: I can jump and brutally beat a man on the ice – and get a one game suspension.  BUT!  If I have no history of improper behavior, and in the course of a routine NHL play, accidentally get an elbow up while finishing a check, can be banned three games.  Chris Griffin, help me out:

Look, in a vacuum, I don’t necessarily have a problem with Hagelin’s suspension.  What I do have a problem with is the league’s rampant hypocrisy.  I find fault with the NHL choosing to exist in a world where thuggery is punished with less vehemence than a forward with no past history, finishing a check high.  I find fault with the NHL choosing to punish Brandon Dubinsky, who thought it a better idea to pull Carkner off of Boyle immediately, rather than wait for the linesmen to skate cross ice to break up the fight, allowing Carkner seven or eight more free shots to his teammates’ head.  By the way, anyone not third man into that disgraceful display wouldn’t play on my team.  It should also be pointed out that an elbow to the head of Ryan Callahan not only went unpunished by the league, it was not reviewed.

Something has gone amiss in Toronto.  For years now, talking heads have complained that hockey is too reluctant to punish its goons.  And for years now, I’ve defended hockey as a niche sport whose toughness and grit is what makes the game great.  Today, I don’t know.  Admittedly, this could be coming from a place of Ranger fandom that costs me any sense of objectivity, but perhaps hockey isn’t just too reluctant to punish its goons, perhaps it’s happy to openly encourage them.

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