November 20, 2009
James Neal(notes) of the Dallas Stars is getting a two-game suspension for his hit from behind on Derek Dorsett(notes) of the Columbus Blue Jackets last night, after a hearing earlier this afternoon. He was given a five-minute major for boarding and a game-misconduct in the Stars' 4-1 loss to the Jackets.
Here's the hit and a TSN roundtable about the hit.
Bob McKenzie, as Bob McKenzie does, nails it: The "optics" of the hit make this a slam-dunk suspension, according to the NHL Wheel of Discipline. High hit to the back of the head, sandwiching Dorsett's noggin against the glass, and then the Blue Jackets player flopping to the ice like a marionette with his strings cut.
Anyone that's been following Colin Campbell's thought process on these things had to know something was coming Neal's way.
Was it malicious? Neal said he had no intent to injure. One can argue he was coming in to split the defenders and not even to hit Dorsett, and that's the argument made by Brandon Worley on Defending Big D. Without the injury, it's a fine and a game misconduct; with the injury, it's a 2-game example made by the NHL.
Worley and Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News both make the point that this is Neal's first disciplinary incident in his two NHL seasons, and Heika thinks the suspension is bad news because of that fact:
He is a player at age 22 who now has a record, and we have seen that the league treats players who have records differently than others. "Repeat offender" will be on his resume for any future hits.
Too true, and the NHL has shown us suspension after suspension that once you're on the Wheel of Discipline, it's not easy to climb off. At least according to the flow chart.