December 6, 2011

Will Jordin Tootoo of the Nashville Predators be Judged Fairly ?

The NHL announced Tuesday afternoon that Nashville Predators forward Jordin Tootoo has been given a two-game suspension after his hit on Buffalo’s Ryan Miller.  NHL Director of Player Safety Brendan Shanahan explained the reasoning behind the suspension by citing several things he felt Tootoo did wrong.  Tootoo, according to Shanahan, after losing the puck made no attempt to continue playing the puck, or avoid contact with Miller.   While this suspension was a step in the right direction of providing more protection for goaltenders, it brings up several questions for fans and players.  The main of these being: Why Tootoo and why not Milan Lucic? 

Tootoo made contact with Miller inside the crease while driving hard to the net.  Lucic made contact with Miller around the top of the circle in open ice.  Lucic received no suspension for the hit, however, Lucic did give Miller a concussion.  Tootoo, on the other hand, left Miller maybe a little bit rattled but unscathed.  The argument can be made that Tootoo’s actions were in immediate result of a player driving to the net and being directed by the Buffalo defender into Miller.  When reviewing the replay from certain angles it appears that Tootoo jumped in order to lessen the blow to Miller.  Once again Lucic could have avoided Miller and made no attempt to lessen the blow. 

Another thing that must be looked at when assessing the suspension is who the goaltender was.  If Tootoo had run into almost any other goaltender in the league he would have received a 2 minute minor for goaltender interference, possibly faced the other teams tough guy and been still playing.  So that causes one to ask if this had been Paul Gaustad running Nashville’s Anders Lindback would Gaustad be serving a suspension.  Gaustad after the fact appeared to be threatening Lindback which is something he was wise not to follow up on later on as Nashville has guys from their captain’s down who are willing to shed the mitts to protect their goaltender, unlike the Sabres. 

In the end there is nothing the Predators or Tootoo can do except deal with the two game suspension.  The league, however, needs to take a step back and think about its suspension policy.  The league needs to start using the same set of rules across the league.  If the league is going to toss out a suspension to Jordin Tootoo for two games, then Milan Lucic should have been suspended for at least three or four games.  In order to protect the goaltenders to the extent that they seem, by the Tootoo suspension, to want to the NHL needs to suspend any players who touch goaltenders.  As for the days where the players policed themselves well I guess the league has decided that the players cannot take care of this themselves.  Hey Buffalo there are some enforcers out there whose services you might want to look into.

- Isaac Berky

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