May 13, 2013; Boston, MA USA; Toronto Maple Leafs right wing Phil Kessel (81) reacts after scoring a goal during the third period in game seven of the first round of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Boston Bruins at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Kessel gets three games, the league gets another black eye.

Brendan Shanahan has had a rough week. He’s probably had to watch more video of NHL players acting like jackasses in the last seven days, then he has had to watch in the previous seven months. So, I’m just going to assume he just missed the point of Phil Kessel‘s slashing attack on John Scott. (Yes, it feels really weird coming to the defense of John Scott.) He acknowledged outright that Kessel second slash was an attack that was designed to injure another player. All parties seem to agree that Kessel crossed as big a line as David Clarkson.

In the end, what was the punishment handed down to Kessel? His actions (along with Scott’s) started the brawl that led to an incredible amount of penalty minutes(211), multiple ejections (3), a suspension(Clarkson), and the fining of Sabres’ coach Ron Rolston (which is a completely different ugly can of worms). Phil Kessel for attempting to injure one player, and then fighting another one in a wild melee received a three game suspension from the Department of Player Safety.

Now that’s a lesson to be proud of Shanny. One player goes out to tussle against another player that’s attacking his team, he gets hit for ten games. (Yes, Clarkson was stupid and the punishment was set in stone.) However, you take a prima donna and allow him to swing for the fences(and even have the gall to show him swinging at Luke Schenn a week earlier) and give him the proverbial slap on the wrist?

Here’s the official ruling from the NHL. I know the league had a serious lack of integrity when they dragged the fans through the lockout last season, but give me a friggin’ break here. Your job is running the Department of Player Safety.

This ruling sets a bad example on two levels. One, the light hearted penalty on a player that was really trying to hurt someone. When someone plans an assault, and it fails they still get charged in most states. The rule of law should have applied here. Two, you penalized a coach for putting out players that you disagreed with.  Well, that’s just wonderful. So, will this mean that Claude Julien will get fined if he puts Shawn Thornton on the ice the same time as Sidney Crosby or one of the other ‘designated elite’ players?

It’s not exactly the soundest precedent you could be setting for the season here. The mischief has been done though, and it’s time we sit back and wait for the next glorious miscarriage of justice to be handed out by the NHL home office.  I expect to see to see at least one more major ruling disaster before the league starts regular season play in a week.

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Tags: Brendan Shanahan Department Of Player Safety National Hockey League

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