Video: Sutton crushes Dupuis; reputation trumps suspension?

Greg Wyshynski

One of the more striking things about this clip of Pascal Dupuis(notes) of the Pittsburgh Penguins getting face-planted into the boards by Andy Sutton(notes) of the New York Islanders last night is the reaction of referee Dan Marouelli as he watches the play unfold. His arm nearly goes up but just sort of hangs in the air as he watches the carnage and Dupuis starts dripping blood.

The hit isn't for the squeamish, so view with caution:

From the AP:

Penguins forward Pascal Dupuis left the ice with a towel held to his face after being rammed into the boards by defenseman Andy Sutton with 2:55 remaining. Sutton drew a game misconduct. Dupuis was on the ice for several minutes after striking the rear boards face-first before getting up and walking to the Penguins' dressing room, leaving a puddle of blood on the ice.

Sutton earned a total of 15 PIM on the play; will that be the end of his punishment? More to the point: Should that be the end of his punishment?

(UPDATE: Two-game suspension for Sutton from the NHL. Under the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, and based on his average annual salary, Sutton will forfeit $31,088.08. The money goes to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.)

Sutton clearly was concerned for Dupuis after the hit and then after the game, as Empty Netters reports:

A very remorseful Andy Sutton spoke of his hit on Dupuis after the game. On the hit:

"Just playing my usual game, tying to play hard, finish checks. I feel awful. I've played with Pascal. I've known him a long time. I obviously never intended for that happen."

-Does he expect any supplementary discipline:

"I don't know."

-How would he describe the hit:

"Obviously it wasn't clean. Pascal was injured. I just hope he's okay. That's about all I can say."

Islanders blogger Chris Botta believes Sutton won't earn any suspension for the hit because of his character:

I say Andy Sutton's relatively clean record and reputation for throwing big but fair hits this season will result in no further discipline from Inconsistent Colin Campbell.

Everything here says that Sutton won't receive anything else from the League on this hit, despite the fact it was quite nasty and the aesthetics were even nastier. That said, it was a dangerous hit on the end boards; if it was a stretcher coming out for Dupuis instead of a towel for blood, we wouldn't even be having a debate.

If nothing else, this brings us back to an old question about NHL discipline for hits: When one player is 6-6 and the other player is 6-1, what might be a less-injurious hit become something much worse due to the positions of their bodies; how do you police that?

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UPDATE: Some additional thoughts shared by Yahoo! Canada editor Steve McAllister that we'd like to pass along:

My problem with the Sutton hit is that, once again, body checking is supposed to be a skill that means separating the player from the puck to get possession of the puck. One replay shows Sutton strictly fixated on wallpapering Dupuis into the boards - that's a B.S. hit.

Just watching another replay and Sutton sets up like a baseball pitcher going into his windup before he drills Dupuis. On that play, Sutton's gotta go for the puck or simply stay between Dupuis and the net - the guy's not going to score from there.

Fair points, and it's the sort of take on this hit that makes us wonder if the NHL will look past Sutton's clean record and contrition to further penalize what was a dangerous play.