Evidently, Moncton Wildcats winger Ross Johnston had no alibi for swinging his stick and breaking the jaw of the Halifax Mooseheads' Brian Lovell last Saturday.
The QMJHL has handed down a 15-game suspension — covering the rest of the regular season, as some dim-bulb armchair disciplinarian wild-guessed — over the incident. That means Johnston will miss almost as much time as Lovell, who is out 4-6 weeks.
From Willy Palov (@CH_willypalov):
Ross Johnston suspended 15 games for his high stick on Brian Lovell.
— Willy Palov (@CH_WillyPalov) February 21, 2013
That's twice as long as any other suspension that the Quebec League has meted out, but the recklessness and the damage done warrants it.
Human nature being what it is, no doubt the play getting national media coverage might have weighed into the decision, even though one would like to think a sports league is like a good judge and can block out the rabble. Whether this deters future incidents is open to question but it shows the QMJHL is willing to come down hard on players who don't control their sticks.
From Alex Arsenault:
It was tough to gauge what kind of suspension the QMJHL was going to hand down. Unfortunately for Johnston, the incident has gone viral. It could be seen on TSN,Sportsnet and even the popular news website Deadspin. With such attention being brought to the QMJHL, it was predictable that they would want to make a statement with a big suspension.
Intentional or not, as a hockey player you always have to be in control of your stick which is why Johnston has been suspended. He has already served one game off his suspension and is eligible to return during the Moncton Wildcats’ second playoff game. (Moncton Sports)
Some might wonder if the Mooseheads posting video of an incident that occurred behind the play to YouTube might cause bad blood. That's beside the point; sports rivalries between any two Maritime cities seldom need too much of a push. Halifax being aboveboard and letting the public see footage that it planned to present to to the league is evidence is certainly savvy, but it's beside the point because there had to be a careless stick swing in the first place.
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet. Please address any questions, comments or concerns to firstname.lastname@example.org (video: Halifax Mooseheads).