Canucks forward Alex Burrows has been suspended for three games for a late hit to the head of Canadiens defenceman Alexei Emelin on Thursday night.
The hit knocked Emelin out of the game briefly, although he later returned to play, which suggests that he does not have a concussion.
Here is the hit:
Before I defend Burrows, let me state that hits to the head can cause concussions and concussions can end careers, so clearly there is no place for it in the game. They should be punished, particularly when the hit is delivered with malice.
Despite Burrows’ reputation as a ‘dirty’ player around the league, this is the first time that he has been suspended in his career. While Burrows has done a few questionable things in his career (finger biting, hair pulling, etc.) he has not been a cheap shot artist. But that won’t stop people from acting like he is the second coming of Matt Cooke.
If this were anyone other than Alex Burrows, I would be surprised this hit received a three-game suspension, given that Emelin returned to the game. With Alex Burrows, nothing surprises me. The guy has been under the microscope for the last three seasons and gets numerous reputation calls, despite the fact that he has cleaned up his game greatly.
So do I agree with the suspension? I’m fine with three games, so long as the NHL can get some semblance of consistency. It seems like sometimes the injury is the deciding factor and sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes a repeat offender gets nailed, sometimes he doesn’t. And on and on it goes… I would love for the NHL to suspend the act and then maybe we could have some guidelines. Instead, it feels like a ‘Wheel of Justice’ and whatever suspension that results is a complete surprise.
Andrew Alberts had his career ended (he still suffers from post-concussion syndrome) on a hit to the head from Brian McGrattan less than a year ago:
That was a hit to the head by a noted goon that didn’t receive a single game. So forgive me if I’m a little bit jaded of the way the NHL’s justice system works sometimes.
Seven months ago, Douglas Murray got a three-game suspension (the same as Burrows just received) for this vicious elbow on Mike Kostka:
I don’t think I’m being a Canucks homer to suggest that Murray’s hit was a little more egregious than what Burrows did.
Same thing goes for Tyler Myers’ hit to the head of Dainius Zubrus back in January that also received a three-game suspension:
If the NHL has decided that they are going to get tougher on hits to the head, then this is a positive move. But I have been fooled before.
Feature Image: canucks.nhl.com