March 06, 2010
For a player with 529 career penalty minutes in 244 NHL games, Derek Boogaard(notes) is somewhat of a stranger to Colin Campbell's "Wheel of Justice". Boogaard's been suspended just once in his five-year NHL career for an elbow to the head of Brandon Prust(notes) of the Calgary Flames last season. The incident cost Boogaard five games, but only added to the Boogeyman's resume as the NHL's scariest enforcer.
Boogaard was given a two-minute penalty for kneeing and Jones came back to play, but eventually left the game before the final two periods. After the game, when asked about the hit, Boogaard gave the cliche answer when a possible knee-on-knee incident occurs saying, "I was just trying to make a hit and he slipped out of the way."
So, where will the "Wheel of Justice" land for Boogaard?
UPDATE: The NHL announced this afternoon that they've suspended Boogaard for two games. Is the suspension too little? Just right?
Boogaard's already in the system with his suspension from last season and with Alex Ovechkin(notes) handed two games and Georges Laraque(notes) given five games for knee-on-knee hits this season, the Wild tough guy's fate may rest with how hurt Jones ends up being. We saw the NHL wait a week and a half to have a hearing with Cam Janssen(notes) of the St. Louis Blues after his late blow to the head of Washington Capitals forward Matt Bradley(notes). Minnesota plays tomorrow afternoon at 3 p.m. EST, so a decision will need on punishment to be made before then and Jones will be going for an MRI this afternoon to determine any damage.
No matter what sort of punishment Campbell does or does not hand out, the critics of having goons around like Boogaard will come out at a time like this. Copper & Blue examined Boogaard's value to the Wild, while David Staples from the "Cult of Hockey" blog at the Edmonton Journal isn't a fan of Boogaard's presence in the NHL:
"There should be no place in hockey for the likes of Boogaard. In 243 career NHL games, he has two goals, 14 points and 527 penalty minutes. He is not a player who can fight, he's a fighter who can't play. He's so lame on the ice that in three years of major junior play he only scored two goals.
His only job is to intimidate, threaten, beat and maim."
Goons have and always will be a part of the NHL. There will always be players like Boogaard who get their five or six minutes a night just to intimidate opponents with their presence (and sometimes fists). While Boogaard's offensive skills won't get him to any future All-Star games, he's on the ice for the same reason players like Dave Schultz, Terry O'Reilly and Dave Semenko were years ago: protection. As team's continue to draft and sign high-priced talent, they'll want their stars protected on the ice at all costs.
s/t Kukla for the video