Scott Laughton suspension adds to head-scratching over OHL’s consistency with supplemental discipline

Taken on its own, bouncing Oshawa Generals centre Scott Laughton for five games for a check from behind on Barrie Colts' Zach Hall was an easy call for the Ontario Hockey League.

It was a cross-check with force across Hall's shoulder blades and the Colts right wing was injured. Hall had gone into a corner with his back turned to the ice, which a dangerous tactic, but there are ways for opponents to counter it that don't involve drilling someone face-first into the glass/boards.

The suspension could be Laughton's last act as a junior if he makes the Philadelphia Flyers for good next season after playing five games in January. The only controversy stems out of wondering how the five-game ban is consistent with the league's other disciplinary actions.

Owen Sound right wing Cameron Brace got the same number of games for a borderline check that did cause Sault Ste. Marie centre Jared McCann to sustain a brain injury (as we're calling what most people call "concussions," unless they're Randy Carlyle ... don't get started on WHL
teams' use of the upper-body-injury euphemism.) Brace was attempting a hockey play when he checked McCann; the intent did not seem so malicious.

And, of course, Barrie's brows are still furrowed over the 10-game ban defenceman Ryan O'Connor got for a check to the head of Kingston Frontenacs right wing Spencer Watson. It started as a hockey play; it was tough tell when the contact to the head occurred, but it did result in Watson missing the last two games of that series. Was that really twice as bad as what Laughton did?

Thirdly, back in the first round, Sault Ste. Marie defenceman Chris Buonomo rocked Owen Sound Attack right wing Kurtis Gabriel with an open-ice check that might have been a tad high. It looked like Exhibit A for the type of play the sport would want to get rid of if it's really serious about reducing traumatic brain injuries — high-speed collision the checker apparently not concerned about the puck while trying to knock an opponent into the middle of next month. That did not result in a suspension; not saying it should have, but compared to what was penalized, it's a noodle-scratcher.

Taken together, it is frustrating for the supporting paying public. The OHL, for a stretch in 2011-12, did provide point-form explanations for longer suspensions. Now it has confused fans, many of whom want answers. Since the market shapes the product, the OHL should revisit the transparency it was initially praised for two seasons ago.

With Barrie up 3-0 over Oshawa in that Eastern semifinal, it's possible the next time one sees Laughton will be in Flyers orange and black, notwithstanding an invite to Team Canada's summer development camp.

Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet. Please address any questions, comments or concerns to (videos: Rogers Television).

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