Sutton will be missing in action for 8 games.
The judge was not lenient. In fact, the eight-game suspension Brendan Shanahan handed down to Edmonton Oilers defenceman Andy Sutton equals the longest he has rendered since taking over as the NHL’s senior vice-president of player safety.
Sutton had his hearing with Shanahan on Saturday, the subject of which was the defenceman’s third-period hit on the Carolina Hurricanes forward Alexei Ponikarovsky in a game played on Wednesday.
Shanahan said it was a clear-cut charge and that the veteran was guilty of launching himself into the air and making contact with the winger’s head "while also propelling it into the glass."
As a student at Notre Dame College in Wilcox, Sask., Jaden Schwartz dutifully learned the school mottoes of "struggle and emerge" and "never lose heart."
Little did he realize what those words would come to mean.
"They come into play in hockey and life in general," Schwartz said Saturday, sticks in hand at the Calgary International Airport in preparation for the first day of Team Canada’s junior team selection camp. "Struggle and emerge, that’s big. And never lose heart. You never want to give up.
"You always want to keep fighting."
Schwartz and his family fight each day through the pain of losing a sister and daughter to cancer on April 3. Mandi Schwartz, a hockey player at Yale University, was 23.
The CHL is trying to prevent more deaths.
Some, however, continue to drag their knuckles on the issue. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said earlier this week that hockey fans do not have an appetite to take fighting completely out of the game. That might be true, Branch said. But unlike the NHL, his responsibility is not to keep the fans entertained.
"Please don’t pit me against Mr. Bettman," Branch said. "We have maybe some different agendas. We’re dealing with young people, we’re dealing with predominantly student-athletes. We have a responsibility to protect them.
"Do I think there’s a segment of fans out there that like fighting? Yes. But I do feel that the numbers of fans that don’t see it as a need or a want are growing. I don’t think our game requires that as a need to sell the game.