Every preseason, there are players that try to make a name for themselves. Sometimes, in their zealousness, they can cross the line between "hockey play" and "dumb play". Suspensions for infractions that cross that line can often result in suspensions of preseason games.
It's unusual to see the stars of the game get suspensions in this time of year. But this year has been different.
Phil Kessel and David Clarkson, two big names in Toronto, have received multi-game suspensions. Kessel was suspended for slashing and spearing John Scott. (Admittedly, if a guy that large was coming at me, I'd probably do the same thing too....) Clarkson's suspension comes from his leaving the bench during the ensuing line brawl between the Maple Leafs and the Sabres. Any time you do that, it's automatically ten games -- and his will be served in the regular season.
The suspensions have been due to some violent altercations this preseason, too. Boarding, illegal checks to the head, using your stick to break another guy's jaw -- none of those are things you can leave unpunished, as players will continue to push the boundaries of what is acceptable if consequences aren't handed out.
Here's a breakdown of the suspension frenzy so far:
- Phoenix Coyotes' Paul Bissonnette was the first to get a ten gamer for leaving the bench to join an altercation -- he's appealing his suspension. [USA Today]
- Tampa Bay Lightning's Adam Erne got three preseason games for an illegal check to the head. [Tampa Bay Times]
- Detroit's Teemu Pulkkinen received four preseason games for boarding a Blackhawks player. [ESPN]
- Toronto Maple Leafs lost two big offensive weapons: Phil Kessel suspended for the remaining three preseason games. [NHL.com] David Clarkson, another one hit with the ten game suspension for leaving the bench to join an altercation, was rumored to be considering appealing, but he really didn't have a case so has decided not to. [ESPN]
- Vancouver Canucks are also down two bodies: Zack Kassian gets eight games for slashing Edmonton Oilers' Sam Gagner across the face. Vancouver also lost Dale Weise for the rest of the preseason (three games) for an illegal check to Taylor Hall. [SB Nation]
- Coaches didn't escape unscathed from the madness -- Buffalo Sabres' coach Ron Rolston received a fine for his part in the lead-up to the Buffalo/Toronto line brawl. [Toronto Star]
What surprises me every year, though, is how committing a similar infraction can have a perceived varying of degree on the suspension front as the season progresses. Is this the NHL Department of Player Safety's way of sending a message early to cut the shenanigans and that's why we're seeing the multi-game penalties doled out? Or is the message lost when you're talking multiple preseason games that don't generally amount to much in the scheme of the season?
The 'eye ball test' seems to indicate it's more the latter than the former.
Stanley Cup of Chowder details why they don't like the Dallas Stars. Something about an Avery and an Ott and leaving Minnesota...so five years ago. Mildly NSFW warning for language reasons. [SCoC]
The Washington Post previews the Dallas Stars leading into the season. For an east coast outlet, I wasn't terribly shocked/appalled at their preview of where the team is. [Washington Post]
In this analysis of team's schedules, you'll find that Dallas has the fourth easiest schedule in the new Central. Their "sweet spot" in the schedule is games 51-60, which if my math is right, is the stretch from January 23rd - March 1st. [On Goal Analysis]
Inside the Phil Kessel suspension hearing. [Down Goes Brown]
Ever wondered what a broken jaw looks like? Sam Gagner shared his mug on Twitter. Every time I see the picture I cringe. [NESN]
I will freely admit that I love RMNB. Here, they've found the maximum capacity of Washington Capitals players a penalty box can hold. The glorious part is the dude to the right of the box. [Russian Machine Never Breaks]
More photos of the Team Canada jerseys leaked, and that black third is something else. It reminds me of Folger's coffee, and it reminds Erin of a pack of cigarettes. What do you think? [Puck Daddy]
Here is a clip of ESPN60's feature on former Dallas Stars Jake Dowell. Fair warning it's a little heartwrenching. Make sure to check out the whole feature on reruns on ESPN if you haven't seen it already.