From the NY Times Slap Shot blog:
The N.H.L. has slapped a three-game suspension
on Danny Briere for this incident from the end of the
Flyers-Islanders game from Saturday night (below), a game in the last minute that had already been decided. Briere
high-sticked/suckered the Islanders’ Frans Nielsen on the faceoff,
whacking Neilsen in the head after they exchanged words before the puck
Briere received a major penalty for cross checking and a game
misconduct. He had a
conference call with the league disciplinarians this morning and
that usually means a suspension is forthcoming.
“I sure hope not,” Briere told Tim
Panaccio of CSNPhilly.com in his public defense on Sunday. “I
didn’t hit him and I didn’t hurt him.”
Well, he may not have hurt him, but he did hit him.
Briere added that Nielsen called him profane names and, “In the
face-off before he did the same thing to me. He came over with his
stick, had me in a head lock, so I didn’t know what he was doing, I just
wanted to keep my hands high and try to protect myself.”
A headlock is not a same thing as a crosscheck, but that’s not the
point. In this era of heightened awareness about the dangers of
concussions and blows to the head, what Briere did is a perfect example
of what the N.H.L. should punish more severely.
It didn’t. And the question is why. It’s hard to fathom that it was
because Briere is a star player while Nielsen is a defensive forward.
Perhaps because Nielsen wasn’t injured, the whack wasn’t worthy of
The lack of an injury lessening the severity of a suspension has been
part of the supplementary discipline process for a long time. But
making the result more important than the intention contributes to an
environment in which players are less accountable for their actions. It
leads to the lack of respect so often decried by the players when an
incident turns out more serious than intended.