Friday night's Colorado Avalanche game was Gabriel Landeskog's hockey Bar Mitzvah, as the team announced beforehand that the rookie sensation wouldn't be shipped back to juniors. Mazel tov!
What did Edmonton Oilers defenseman Andy Sutton get him on this momentous occasion? Why, an elbow to the head in the third period, of course. Here's Sutton's hit, followed by some retribution from Landeskog's teammate Shane O'Brien:
Sutton was given two minutes for elbowing and five for fighting at 3:23. O'Brien was given two for instigating, five for fighting and a misconduct. Landeskog didn't appear injured on the play, as he skated through the third period of the Avs' 3-1 loss to the Oilers.
The Colorado announcers, obviously partisan, saw this Sutton hit as a potential violation of the NHL's Rule 48 banning principle contact with the head. Landeskog is in a vulnerable position in attempting to take the pass; if Sutton wasn't trying to hit him on the head, we're not sure where else he was targeting. This is, as they say, the kind of hit the NHL wants out of its product, with or without an injury on the play.
If there is any action taken by the Dept. of Player Safety and Sheriff Shanahan, keep in mind Sutton would be a repeat offender, having been suspended for two games in Jan 2010 after a hit on Pascal Dupuis of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Granted, we are a little hesitant to pass judgment on Andy Sutton; for although we've seen the replay, we can't claim to be an expert. Others have made the same mistake in the past: