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League gets it wrong...again
Stoll receives a single game suspension for hit on White
4/15/11 - By Mike Lee -

The Los Angeles Kings received a gift from the on-ice officials on Thursday night in Game 1 of the Western Conference Quarter Finals series with the Sharks, when Jarret Stoll was allowed to remain in the game after he plowed Ian White with a blindside hit from behind. The NHL assessed the equivalent of a hand slap on Friday by suspending Stoll for one game. That suspension will be served on Saturday as the two teams square off for Game 2 in San Jose.

So much for cracking down on illegal hits that result in head injuries. So much for all the rhetoric regarding concussions and the league's insistence that cheap-shots resulting in head injuries will be cleaned up.

What's become clear is that "NHL" doesn't stand for "No Headshots League."

Ian White can attest to that. After missing the entire 2nd & 3rd period, along with the overtime session, White will not participate in Game 2. The defenseman was not available to practice on Friday because of the injury, which means Justin Braun will most likely go for the Sharks as they try to grab a 2-0 lead in the series.

If White misses any more time, it'll be an exchange that significantly favors the Kings. The Sharks acquired White right before the trade deadline in an attempt to shore up their blueline. Having him just disappear opens that hole right back up.

In the playoffs, losing a defenseman can be a back-breaker. There is so much more emphasis on defense in the playoffs, that White's absence creates immediate problems for the Sharks.

Los Angeles scored a pair of goals in the 2nd period in Game 1, which had a direct correlation to White's absence. Justin Williams goal came against the Sharks top defensive pairing of Douglas Murray and Dan Boyle, but those guys were double shifting from the start of the 2nd period on.

Given that White missed the majority of Game 1, and that he won't be playing in Game 2, I'm not sure why it's so hard to give Stoll a minimum of 2 games? The Sharks come out on the short end of the stick here, all because a player elected to use poor judgment. They are being penalized for the actions of an opposing player.

Los Angeles Kings head coach tried to spin the situation on Friday by shifting focus away from Stoll by accusing Sharks defenseman Jason Demers of committing a far worse infraction.

Let the gamesmanship begin.

Demers left his feet to apply a check to Kings forward Ryan Smyth. Murray took exception to the play, saying Demers hit was "five times more severe" than Stoll's hit.

Only problem is, the hit never landed. Smyth was falling away from the play, there was no contact to Smyth's head, and both players got up and continued to play. Ian White will have to clear league imposed concussion protocols in order to return to the ice. White will be lost for the equivalent of 2 games at minimum.

Whatever credibility Murray might have established during his association with the league is about valuable as a bag of pucks. To imply Demers miss was five time worse that Stoll egregious hit is ludicrous.

The Sharks choose to address the situation by beating the Kings. That's certainly the most pragmatic approach, but watching the Sharks playoff roster impacted by cheap shots gets old.

Raffie Torres knocked Milan Michalek out of the 2006 playoffs with a hit that would earn a 10 game suspension by today's standards. Well, make that three games. Oh hell, who knows what the league would impose today.

A series victory would certainly be nice, but what happens after that if White can't play? Injuries are part of the game, but injuries that are caused by cheap-shots are just tough to swallow. The fact that the league does nothing to try and crack down on that type of behavior is infuriating.

What's really baffling is the fact that you never hear team's say, "man, that suspension was too severe." It just doesn't happen. The penalty doesn't ever seem to fit the crime. The players know that, to there's no reason to stop committing the crime.

It's a simple concept, but it seems that the simpletons that run the league still can't ever grasp the concept.

So now we wait to see what effects the play will really have on both teams. If I had to choose, I'd rather lose a 20-goal scorer than a top 4 defenseman. The Kings are fine with the way this has all played out. Why wouldn't they? They got the better end of this raw deal.



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