February 03, 2011
On the NHL timeline, there are only three franchises younger than the Nashville Predators, who were founded in 1997. The question Preds blogger Dirk Hoag sought to answer: Does that newbie status translate into some kind of institutional bias when it comes to NHL supplemental discipline?
Hoag, who blogs at On The Forecheck, noticed circumstantially that as Nashville players were getting suspended for heinous on-ice infractions, opposing players were rarely suspended for unsportsmanlike conduct against a Predator.
So he decided to check the numbers for all 30 teams since the lockout, using a variety of sources to chronicle suspensions. For example: The Predators have had a player suspended seven times since the lockout, but only had an opponent suspended for an act committed against Nashville once. For the Atlanta Thrashers, it's six suspensions to zero for their opponents.
Now, these numbers don't point to some massive slap in the face of Sunbelt expansion teams. Instead, Hoag's research seems to indicate that the older your franchise is, no matter where it's located, the more suspensions your opponents will receive through supplemental discipline in the NHL.
Check out the following chart, plotted from his data since 2005-06 to the present. "Perpetrators" are players from the team that were suspended, and "victims" are the number of times an opponent of that team was suspended:
Interesting, isn't it? There's basically no trend at all when it comes to the Perpetrators. But in terms of which teams are on the receiving end of suspendable offenses, the Original Six enjoy a privileged (dare we say protected?) status. Heck, the New York Rangers almost look like the home team for the folks at NHL Headquarters. Wait a minute...
Meanwhile, the folks in Atlanta, Nashville, Tampa, New Jersey and Columbus would certainly appear to have something to complain about. The next time such a fan spins a conspiracy theory that the league doesn't suspend guys who take a run at their players, well, it looks like they're right.
Interesting take, supported by the data for the most part. (And also interesting to note that Gregory Campbell's(notes) old team the Florida Panthers, according to Hoag, have not had a perpetrator since the lockout.)
How much of this has to do with team prestige? How much of it has to do with reputations that go beyond franchise age? The Philadelphia Flyers (14 suspensions) and Anaheim Ducks (eight suspensions) obviously earned more scrutiny in the last several years than, say, the Boston Bruins (two suspensions). How much of it has to do with personnel in a given time frame, such as Chris Simon's classic run with the New York Islanders?
And when it comes to the Original Six, how many of these decisions are based on deference to history and how many are based on massive fan bases centered around major media hubs in New York, Chicago, Toronto and Montreal making noise?
Check out the full report from Hoag; you won't be disappointed.