A Constantly Moving Target
You have an imaginary second NHL team in Toronto that some believe now can have a price tag attached. Surely, pretend jersey mock-ups are on the way.
You have Mats Sundin's newly sold Toronto home, which surely belongs in the realm of the imaginary for most of us. Why a bachelor needs eight bathrooms certainly strains the imagination.
And you have the NHL justice system, always an ever-changing dynamic, requiring new levels of imagination from those who mete out hockey justice and from those trying to understand that justice.
There's always room for a new precedent, it seems. Chris Simon gets 25 games pretty much out of the blue. Mark Bell gets 15 games based on no particular case law.
Now you have a three-game ban handed down to Montreal's Tom Kostopoulos for checking Maple Leaf defenceman Mike Van Ryn from behind in game Saturday night, leaving Van Ryn seriously injured.
This type of incident happens frequently in the NHL, and often goes unpunished. Last year, Philly's Randy Jones ended the season of Boston's Patrice Bergeron on a far worse hit and got a two-game ban.
This season, Leaf forward Ryan Hollweg, a notorious multiple offender when it comes to hitting from behind, struck again on St. Louis defenceman Alex Pietrangelo and received an automatic three-game suspension after injuring Pietrangelo, but nothing more.
So Kostopoulos, a first time offender, receives more than Jones, and the same as Hollweg, a player penalized time and time again for hitting from behind.
And this system makes sense to somebody?
Look, if they want to make every hitting-from-behind major punishable with a three-game suspension, that's okay with me. Or 10 games. That's fine with me too. In fact, if they want to make every hit from behind a major, rather than giving the referees the discretion to hand out a two-minute minor for boarding, that's okay with me too.
But this Kostopoulos suspension is clearly a brand new level of NHL justice. In fact, by noting the hit was on a player who was "not unsuspecting," NHL authorities have apparently notified all NHL players that players are no longer required to protect themselves in any way, shape or form.
Again, I'm okay with this. But Kostopolous should have at least been notified that the rules were changing beforehand so he could adjust. But this was a nationally televised game, and this involved the Leafs, so the degree of righteous indignation is ear-splitting.
So Kostopolous gets punished not for what he did, but for where he did it and against which team. The screaming from the Leafs is quite extraordinary, including coach Ron Wilson's call for teams to be punished in some way when players do bad things.
Hmm. Can't remember Wilson saying the same thing after Hollweg was suspended. Wonder why.
Meanwhile, Brandon Sutter is still out, a victim of a nasty hit to the head by Doug Weight. No suspension. No penalty.
This is always the way its been with NHL suspensions. Completely scattershot, no minimums or maximums, just make it up as you go along.
Right out of one's imagination.