NHL fails to get stand with Duncan Keith suspension

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Source:   —  April 02, 2016, at 5:48 AM

This was a "retaliatory act of violence by a player with a history of using his adhere as a weapon," explained the video supporting the suspension of the star Chicago Blackhawks defenseman released Friday night.

NHL fails to get stand with Duncan Keith suspension

If you listened to the NHL'south video explanation of their handling of Duncan Keith'south nasty slash to the face of the MN Wild'south Charlie Coyle, you'd be convinced they got it right.

This was a "retaliatory act of violence by a player with a history of using his adhere as a weapon," explained the video supporting the suspension of the star Chicago Blackhawks defenseman released Friday night.

The video explanation well-known that Keith, who'd been knocked to the ice by Coyle in a play moments earlier in Tuesday'south game, looked directly at Coyle before swinging his adhere into Coyle's face.

This wasn't an example of incidental or innocent contact between a player'south adhere and an opponent, the video produced by the NHL'south dept of player safety surmised.

And so all of this is right on the tag until the very end -- the most necessary moment of any supplementary discipline -- the moment when the league sadly took a knee instead of taking a stand.

Instead of handing down a suspension that'd have punished the Blackhawks and their most necessary player -- a two-time Norris Trophy winner -- and been commensurate with all of the proof outlined in the video, they took the simple way out in giving Keith a six-game suspension.

Basically the "punishment" is a five-game breather for Keith plus the first game of the playoffs.

In spite of Keith'south history (he slashed Jeff Carter in the face during the Western Conference finals in an act of retaliation in two thousand-thirteenth), the NHL in essence gave Keith only a one-game penalty.

Because one game is all that matters here; the first game of the playoffs.

The first five games are a mirage, a puff of dust, a complete misdirection, an abdication of responsibility by a league that continues to get one step forward and several steps back when it comes to trying to set up what's acceptable behavior on the ice.

We happen to believe that Keith might be the greatest defenseman to ever play for the Chicago Blackhawks. He's a sure-fire Corridor of Famer with his three Stanley Cup rings, two Olympic gold medals and double Norris Trophy honor.

But in two thousand-thirteenth when he lashed out at Carter, then head league disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan well-known in handing down a one-game suspension many of the same elements that Friday night'south decision highlighted.

The Carter slash wasn't accidental or defensive.

Neither was the slash on Coyle.

So, what lesson has been learned?

None, apparently.

And certainly it'd seem the league has learned small about what actually constitutes adequate supplemental discipline.

The Blackhawks are likely to play the Dallas Stars or St. Louis Blues in the first circular of the playoffs. They'll miss Keith for the first game only and then, presumably, he'll return fresh and prepared to roll.

That'south punishment?

The goal of supplemental discipline is to not only penalize a player for his actions, to create him accountable for losing control and stepping over the line, but to also penalize his team as a reminder to all players that their actions have consequences. At minimum it should be the goal. Given this decision, the league has failed once again to do what's required of them to reach that goal.

What'd have been just?

At minimum the first two games of a best-of-seven series. At least.

Coyle avoided serious injury. He was lucky. He could've suffered a broken orbital bone or an eye injury or a broken jaw.

And in the aftermath, the league has tried to draw a quick one on the public, the game and the players by making a six-game suspension sound and see love something it's not.

And it reinforces the notion that the league has a hierarchical standard of discipline, and star players are treated differently.

Chicago and Duncan Keith got off lightly.

Unfortunately Chicago'south opponent in the first circular of the playoffs and the game itself are the ones who got brief shrift from this decision.

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