The NHL continues to make it difficult to convince St. Louis Blues fans the league does not have it in for them. Oskar Sundqvist’s suspension is proof.
The St. Louis Blues will be without the services of Oskar Sundqvist for Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final. Sundqvist had a phone hearing with the NHL and somehow the league came away with the idea of suspending him for one game.
The suspension shows how ridiculous and biased this league is. There is no way if the situations were reversed, anyone on Boston would be missing a game.
However, there is little media coverage in St. Louis. There are only a handful of television stations and one newspaper. Why should the league fear any backlash from a mid-sized market with such little media power?
The NHL’s explanation is a joke too. They try to rely on the wording in their rules as their backbone, but when you see the things the officials are letting slide, you know it is a double-standard.
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According to Jim Thomas’ article, the league fell back on the idea that the onus is on the hitter to deliver a legal check. The NHL said Sundqvist had time to react to Matt Grzelcyk‘s movement and instead cut across his body to deliver a more forceful and direct hit to the upper body and head.
That is such a misrepresentation and disgusting interpretation of what happened that it makes you want to vomit. To even construe that from what happened, you would need to watch the thing frame by frame to make up that kind of garbage.
Grzelcyk made himself vulnerable by reaching out to make a play on the puck. Sammy Blais did the exact same thing, minus the exposing his back, and he got knocked down later in the game. The only difference is Grzelcyk got hurt. If we are going to deliver “justice” based only on injuries then hockey is about to change for the worse.
Grzelcyk is the one that put himself in a position to get hurt. He lowered the angle of his head and turned his back when he knew he would be hit. If he took the hit without trying to adjust his body, there would have been no injury and likely not even a penalty. Instead, Blues fans have to sit through this garbage.
What adds insult to injury is the wording the league chose to use. The NHL claims Sundqvist “adjusts his course, then hits (Grzelcyk) forcefully from behind with speed, driving him violently into the glass and causing an injury.”
That with speed part is particularly insulting. We could have bought the non-call on Torey Krug based on gliding into the hit. However, when you ignore the part of how much speed Krug generated by going the length of the entire ice, which is supposed to be illegal if you look at the rule, but apply how much speed Sundqvist had generated, it shows the NHL for the farce it is.
The Blues are now being punished for playing the media game the wrong way. Craig Berube protected Robert Thomas by saying he simply had a preexisting injury and that is why he sat out Game 2.
There is no doubt Thomas was not healthy during these playoffs. However, he was pushing through the injury prior to that illegal hit and not playing after. Nevertheless, Krug’s hit was praised as a game changer and how fantastic it was to energize the team and crowd.
Flip the script and Boston fans want to cry about dirty play. Krug was legitimately head hunting and Sundqvist had no time to react, yet one is a hero and one is suspended. Again, partly because the Blues did not play this out in the media.
One of the Blues fans’ favorites, their former captain, went in the media and all but pleaded for a suspension. David Backes all but said there would be head hunting reciprocated if the league did not take action. Forget the fact that Backes has made that same hit countless times, making him look like a two-faced fool. This is not the NBA. Players should not be whining to the press that certain hits are dirty when the person talking about it has done those things and had those things done to them.
Jamie Rivers put it perfectly in a discussion on 101 ESPN. He compared this to a car going down the road at 40 mph – not even highway speeds, but 40 mph. If a car suddenly pulls out in front of you, 15-30 feet away, even if you slam on the breaks, you are going to hit that car.
It is a ridiculous notion that Sundqvist could have pulled off or hit in another way. It is pure nonsense, fueled by the fact that we can freeze frame every little pixel and come up with 50 scenarios about how any incident could have gone differently. Watch that in full speed and tell anyone with a straight face there could have been a different result based on Sundqvist’s actions alone.
There was no priors here. Sundqvist barely had over 20 penalty minutes all season long. He has never been suspended before. But, this was apparently a malicious play with ill intent, so he gets kicked out.
When even Don Cherry, who likes to be controversial and is also a pro-Boston guy, says this was the fault of the hitee, not the hitter, and the NHL throws down a suspension anyway, you know things have reached critical mass.
Blues fans thought they were done with this kind of stuff after the hand pass debacle against San Jose. Apparently the NHL had one more ace up its sleeve.