This preseason, Steve Downie viciously elbowed Ottawa's Dean McAmmond. The NHL suspended Downie for 20 games. Last week, Jesse Boulerice's cross check on Vancouver's Ryan Kessler earned a 25 game suspension. The ink had barely dried on the paperwork on the latest suspension when the latest dangerous hit to the head occured. This one, however, will likely go unpunished.
It was late in the Saturday Columbus - Colorado tilt and the Avs were well in control, leading 5 to 1. Several members of the Blue Jackets were showing some on ice frustration, and Avalanche tough guys Ian Laperriere and Scott Parker were seeing as much ice time as possible to do their in-game policing. With just over a minute to go, Colorado's Wyatt Smith and Columbus' Duvie Westcott got together behind the Columbus net. They tussled while the play continued. Scott Parker headed towards the scrum, and Westcott decided to take a proactive stance: he crosschecked Parker hard in the mouth.
Unlike McAmmond and Kessler, the 6'5" 230 lb Parker did not drop to the ice. He mantained his balance - but not his composure - as he was led to the box for roughing. Parker's mouth was bloodied from the check, and he was incensed. Ultimately, we would be tossed out of game as well, which is probably for the better; he was so angry, he appeared to be just on the edge of losing control.
The Westcott hit was a dangerous and deliberate blow to the head of an opposing player, and looked every bit as vicious as the Boulerice hit. This would be the perfect place to link to the youtube upload of the check, but it doesn't exist. Nor is there any mention of the incident in the various AP/CP recaps of the game. The closest I could find was a mention in The Columbus Dispatch:
Duvie Westcott roughed up Colorado's Wyatt Smith, then headed to the showers after breaking his stick over the goal.
Today, the same writer has a more accurate description of the hit:
With 1:19 left in the third period, Westcott had Colorado center Wyatt Smith pinned on the ice and was shoving Smith repeatedly in the back to prevent him from getting up when Scott Parker came racing to Smith's aide.
As Parker neared, Westcott pulled away from Smith and put both arms and his stick in the air to defend himself from Parker. Parker appeared to get struck in the mouth by Westcott's right glove and the butt end of his stick.
That's a bit closer to reality, although still seems to gloss over the fact that Westcott intentionally got his stick up to the face of an opponent. Self-defense or not, that is exactly the type of stuff that the league is trying to cut down on. Westcott is not known to be a player to take these kinds of shots at people, but surely he'll be suspended for this. Perhaps not as long as thugs like Downie or Boulerice garnered, but it's still a suspension-worthy play. Right?
Nope. From the same article: "It's unlikely Westcott will be suspended, multiple league sources said."
I'm not even going to point out that Kessler and McAmmond both play for Canadian teams (oops, what did I do there?). I will, though, point out that Kessler and McAmmond are, quote, skilled players. Parker is not. Parker is only out there to protect Kessler and McAmmond from these types of plays. In fact, that's how he got nailed to begin with - he was rushing to help his teammate. When a guy like Parker isn't around to help the Kesslers and McAmmonds of the world and an ugly incident happens, the league steps in and protects their players the only way they can - with a lengthy suspension. I guess the NHL feels that a tough guy like Parker can fend for himself.
Indeed, no suspension for Westcott. Just a $1,000 fine. That should definitely deter any future dirty play.