By: Michael Abitabilo
As you may have heard by now, the NHL has suspended Rangers forward Daniel Carcillo for ten games and Brandon Prust for two games for unrelated incidents that occurred during game three of the Eastern Conference Finals.
To break down these incidents and their resulting suspensions, I decided to resort to a favorite device of mine, the fake conversation. In this fake conversation, I will try explain to a fake four year old child what happened last night and today.
FAKE KID (FK): Mr. Mike, why are you so sad right now?
ME: Well, you see Fake Kid, I am a big fan of the New York Rangers. And last night, one of their players got hurt.
FK: How did he get hurted?
ME: Well, there is this player on the other team. His name is Brandon Prust. He used to play for the Rangers and all of the Rangers’ fans loved him. But two years ago he left New York and signed as a free agent with Montreal.
FK: But if evwyone wuvved him so much why did he leave?
ME: Unfortunately, that’s just part of professional sports. Rangers fans understood, and until last night, still had very strong feelings for Prust.
FK: What happeneded last night?
ME: Prust did a bad bad thing to one of our best players. Here, watch this:
FK: HOLY CWAP!
ME: Hey, watch your language, Fake Kid.
ME: It’s ok. I was pretty upset when I saw that, too.
FK: Did Pwust get in twubble for doing that?
ME: He did. The NHL suspended him for two games.
FK: What does puppended mean?
ME: It’s “suspended.” It means Prust isn’t allowed to play for the next two games. It’s kind of like being in time out.
FK: Oh I get it! But if Pwust got puppended for two games, why are you so sad about this?
ME: Well, Fake Kid, there’s more to the story.
FK: There is??
ME: Yea. See, that hit was so hard that Stepan’s jaw was broken, and he had to have surgery to fix it.
ME: Yes. Surgery. And now, Stepan’s status for the rest of the series is in question.
FK: What does that mean?
ME: That means we don’t know if he will be able to play because his ouchy hurts and the doctors might be worried about him getting hurt even more!
FK: Oh no!
ME: Exactly. And on top of that, one of the Rangers got suspended today too.
FK: Why? Did he injoo one of da Montreal players?
ME: No. What he did was different. See, after Prust hit Stepan, all of Stepan’s teammates were mad. And since the referees didn’t call a penalty on Prust, some of Stepan’s teammates felt they had to stand up for him. So the next time Prust was on the ice, two of the Rangers’ tougher players approached Prust and asked him if he wanted to have a fight.
FK: My mommy says fighting is bad.
ME: It is bad. But in this case, it was kind of like standing up to a bully. Anyway, Derek Dorsett – one of Stepan’s teammates – started fighting with Prust. While this was going on, another Ranger named Daniel Carcillo was nearby. Apparently concerned that Carcillo might join the fight, the official closest to the play aggressively grabbed Carcillo in an attempt to get him away. In the heat of the moment, Carcillo sort of swung his arm in an attempt to get free and, in doing so, made contact with the official. Here, watch:
FK: Did Carciwwo get in twubble for that?
ME: He did. He got thrown out of the game and the league suspended him for 10 games.
FK: He got puppended for 10 games for that and Pwust only got two?? But Mr. Mike, I don’t undoostand. Pwust almost keeled Stepan! Did dat weffawee even get hurt?
ME: No! The ref. was fine.
FK: So den why is Carciwwo’s puppension five times longer than Pwust’s??!
ME: Wow – you know that 5×2 is 10? That’s impressive. Anyway, it’s really hard to explain, but it has to do with the contract the league signs with this thing called a union, which is a group of people that represents all of the players in its dealings with the league. Anyway, that contract has all sorts of language in there dealing with player discipline. In Prust’s case, he was suspended under Rule 28.1 of the NHL Rulebook. That section allows the league to impose supplementary discipline for events that occur during the course of a game, but doesn’t have any set guidelines in terms of the length of suspensions. With respect to illegal checks to the head, the league considers a number of factors including a player’s prior history. They also look at other similar incidents that have occurred in the past and try to make penalties consistent. They have to be careful because if they impose a penalty that’s too harsh, the player can appeal it and ultimately go before an arbitrator. The league really doesn’t want that.
Anyway, Carcillo, wasn’t suspended under Rule 28.1. Instead, he was suspended under Rule 40.3, which deals with the “physical abuse of officials.” Unlike Rule 28.1, that rule has automatic suspensions for certain conduct, and even outlines the number of games to be imposed.
FK: So you’re saying dat da puppensions announced today make sense because of what the contwacts say?
FK: But I don’t understand. Isn’t the league twying weally weally hard to eliminate head shots from the game?
ME: They are.
FK: And wasn’t Pwust’s hit exactly what they don’t want to happen?
ME: It was.
FK: And doesn’t it seem silly that the penalty for applying physical force to an official in any manner “without the intent to injure” would be far more severe than the penalty for deliberately hitting a defenseless player in the head and causing a significant injury to said player?
ME: It does! But remember, the league can only do what its contract with the players says it can do. And what happened to your adorable speech impediment?
FK: Oh, right. So does da fact dat da discipline is in da contwact make you less sad?
ME: Not at all, kid. Not at all.
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Mike Abitabilo is the co-founder of the Read Zone, and thinks Fake Kid is wise beyond his years.