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Zac Rinaldo needs to be suspended for a long time

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The sucker punch on Sam Girard is just the latest suspendable offense from Zac Rinaldo

NHL: Colorado Avalanche at Arizona Coyotes Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Everyone knows that Arizona Coyotes forward Zac Rinaldo is a rat. The 27-year old has more games suspended than he does goals in the NHL. He was at it again Saturday night when he was thrown out of the game after a sucker punch to the face of Colorado Avalanche defender Samuel Girard.

Midway through a scoreless game, Zac Rinaldo took a run at Avalanche star Nathan MacKinnon. There was nothing wrong with the hit, but as is suspected in today’s NHL, MacKinnon’s teammates took exception to the play.

Rookie defenseman Sam Girard was the closest Avs player to the collision, so he was the first to confront Rinaldo. He gave Rinaldo a light shove and was met with a bare-fisted sucker punch. The play escalated as Erik Johnson jumped in to avenge his 19-year old defense partner.

There are a number of people defending Rinaldo's actions - the most notable being former NHL goons and current Coyotes analysts Paul Bissonnette and Tyson Nash.

Both analysts blamed the incident on instincts. Saying that Rinaldo was just ready for a fight and got the jump on Girard. Pardon my language but that’s a bullshit defense.

At the very worst this play was predatory. Rinaldo knew exactly what he was doing and tried to hurt Sam Girard. I don’t necessarily believe that this is the case.

I am willing to buy that it was a reactionary response by Rinaldo - and that almost makes the whole thing worse. If Rinaldo was simply reacting to his surroundings, it shows that his natural instinct is to respond to adversity with violence. That’s dangerous - in life and in the NHL.

Here is the full play, you be the judge. Girard came at Rinaldo, he wasn’t overly aggressive. He gave Rinaldo a light shove (not the vicious cross-check some are claiming). Somehow, Rinaldo felt threatened enough to throw a right cross to his face while Girard had his hands down.

That’s Tyson Nash on the commentary. Listening to him defend Rinaldo is cringe-worthy.

“You have to expect to get popped” - no, sorry Tyson, you absolutely do not.

Scroll through Twitter and you’ll see a large number of Coyotes fans that condemn the actions and hope Rinaldo is gone for a long time. Unfortunately, you see the opposite as well. There are a ton of fans defending the play - something that isn’t surprising when you hear the commentary Nash gave them on the play.

Or this kind of crap from Paul Bissonnette:

Rinaldo was assessed a match penalty on the play. So regardless of what the meathead analysts think, he will be suspended pending league review. This will be his fifth suspension in six NHL seasons.

It’s been hard to justify Rinaldo’s presence in the NHL for a while now. This just makes it harder.

This is a player that was bounced around three junior teams in four years in the OHL because he served no other purpose than being violent. He’s a guy that has been suspended in two different professional hockey leagues at the same time. He’s a player that has the second worst CF/60 on a terrible NHL team.

Zac Rinaldo is not meant to be in the NHL.

Honestly, I don’t understand why any team executive would give him another chance. He’s not worth it.

I hope the league stands up and reacts in a way that announces there is no place in hockey for this kind of action - or player. The NHL claims they want to protect their players. This is a chance to show us. A bare-fisted sucker punch to the face of a defenceless opponent is one of the more dangerous plays you can see in hockey. Whether predatory or reactive, no one thinking rationally should be able to find a way to defend Zac Rinaldo right now.

Give Rinaldo the Raffi Torres treatment. Send him away for a long time with the hopes that he won’t be back. NHL teams can’t seem to help but find excuses to play losers like Rinaldo - a long suspension can save them from themselves.