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We disagree (with each other) on Hansen’s suspension

Written on February 21, 2013 at 11:28, by HTTN

HTTN writers debate the merits of the Hansen suspension

-by J.D Burke and Omar Rawji

As you know, the NHL handed Jannik Hansen a one-game suspension for his second period *hit* to Marian Hossa’s head. Is the suspension just? Even a couple of HTTN writers can’t agree – below, we engage in a debate on the topic.

The hit:

Brendan Shanahan’s ruling:

J.D. and Omar discuss the Hansen suspension

Argument 1: Hansen’s a clean player!

J.D.: For starters Hansen is anything but a repeat offender or a dirty player — in Hansen’s 286 games he has 127 penalty minutes. This means he has drawn one minor penalty every four games. It’s clear Hansen has done his best to play a clean game even as his role and ice time have increased. Stats aside, Hansen has also never been suspended before this incident.

Omar: Prior history? Before Duncan Keith elbowed Daniel Sedin’s head last season, he’d played seven years without a suspension. Does that mean his hit was clean and innocent? Sorry, but history, or a lack thereof, does not exonerate a player from hitting another in the head.

Argument 2: Hansen had no intention to hurt Hossa

J.D.: It’s clear there was no intent to harm Hossa. Hansen was reaching for a puck in mid air. He was not raising his hand with the purpose of hurting Hossa, and it wasn’t even an ulterior motive. Furthermore, Hossa’s head was inches away from the puck when Hansen’s elbow made contact with it. The alternative to reaching for the puck with his hand is attempting to bat it out of mid air or to just let it fly by.

Omar: I agree completely, Hansen wasn’t trying to injure Hossa, but does that mean he needn’t be responsible? Regardless if he meant to or not, Hansen’s elbow hit Hossa’s head. And watching the play over again, the hit was late.

In typical head-shot suspensions, if a player puts himself in a vulnerable position along the boards, the onus remains on the hitter to adjust and not injure him. What makes this play any different? Hansen should have adjusted. He didn’t, so he got a minor suspension.

Argument 3: What about the injury?

J.D.: Another thing is I’ve always had a problem with taking injury into account. In the case of this play, if Hossa isn’t knocked out by a harmless looking bump to the head, I doubt Hansen gets a minor penalty on the play. Intent should come before anything else in determining a punishment.

Omar: Back to the Keith-Sedin incident, pretty sure the longer Daniel was out, the more irate Canucks fans became that Keith had only been out five games. The Canucks lost Sedin for the final nine regular season games, plus three first round playoff games. Sedin’s injury may have been the main reason the Canucks lost to the Kings – so was the five game suspension to Keith enough?

At the end of the day, it benefits all NHL players if the league sends the message that hits to the head are not tolerated – intentional or not. Each player must avoid injuring others. A one game suspension hardly screams that Hansen made an ugly, dirty play. It simply says “this is something you shouldn’t do” to everyone in the league.

  • best behaviour

    But Hossa isn’t injured. He’s back in the lineup. He just sat out the rest of that match due to caution for *preexisting* head injury. Quite rightly & hope he recovers – but why should Hansen be classified as causing an injury?

    Seriously, if you saw that play and Hossa didn’t have a pre-existing medical condition that made him go down, so play continued – would you really think it was a dangerous play and lucky no one got hurt on it? I doubt it.