The NHL dropped the hammer today:
Washington Capitals forward Donald Brashear has been suspended for a total of six games as a result of two separate incidents -- one prior to and one during Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Quarter-Final series Sunday against the New York Rangers.
Brashear was suspended one game for initiating contact with Rangers forward Colton Orr during the pre-game warm-up. Brashear was suspended for five additional games for a blind-side hit on New York forward Blair Betts at 9:54 of the first period.
"Brashear delivered a shoulder hit to an unsuspecting player," said NHL Senior Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations Colin Campbell. "It is also my opinion that the hit was delivered late and targeted the head of his opponent, causing significant injury."
Brashear's suspension will be served beginning tomorrow night when the Capitals meet the Rangers in Game Seven of the series. The suspension will extend through the Capitals' next five 2009 playoff games, the 2009-10 regular season, or both, as circumstances warrant.
The League is using Brashear as an example here, and its six-game suspension is clearly meant to be a deterrent. No more nickel and dime discipline from Colin Campbell and Co. Six playoff games, for any player, is like a 20-gamer in the regular season -- it can be an entire series in the playoffs. Consider that Chris Pronger has never been suspended longer than one playoff game despite being a repeat repeat offender.
As Campbell indicated, the player on the other end of this violent hit and the extent of his injuries factors into it: Center Blair Betts, arguably the Rangers' best penalty killer, is out indefinitely with a broken orbital bone. If you're one that believes the magnitude of the damage inflicted should primarily influence the length of a suspension, then the League got it right.
Still ... six playoff games, with carryover to the regular season. This is the NHL disciplinary equivalent of beating up the biggest guy in the prison yard so no one else steps out of line.