So Pat Kaleta got five games for this hit on Brad Richards of the New York Rangers last night.
I have no issue with the penalty called in the game (a 5 minute major and a game misconduct for Boarding), or with the suspension handed down by the league. While Kaleta has made great strides to change both his image and the way he plays the game, this was a dangerous play and was dealt with appropriately.
My frustration lies more with the way the NHL arbitrarily metes out its punishments. It started with Colin Campbell, who had an awful track record with the way he handed down punishments.
Take the hit by Zdeno Chara on Max Pacioretty in 2011.
One could argue that this play was signifiantly more dangerous than Kaleta's check on Richards last night, yet Campbell decided that this hit warranted no additional discipline. You'll never convince this blogger that Chara didn't know exactly where he was on the ice and that there was no intent to injure. You'll also never convince me that Campbell wasn't influenced in his decision by the fact that his son played for the Bruins at the time of this hit.
When Brendan Shanahan took over, I thought things would improve and, for a brief period, they seemed to. But it wasn't long before we were back to the same old same old.
Exhibit B: Milan Lucic's hit on Ryan Miller.
This time, it was Shanahan who decided that no discipline was warranted. Coincidence that it happened to be the Bruins again? I don't know.
What I do know is, even though these are just two examples, there are many more that all combine to suggest that the league seems to pick and choose how it applies its rules. While I understand that it must be difficult to review and decide on some of the borderline plays, the two examples shown above seem abundently obvious. And, to many of us, the way the disciplinary rules are applied seems random and arbitrary.
The one thing I'll give Shanahan credit for is at least he publishes a video record of each play that is reviewed, along with his explanation of why he made his decision, so, at least he owns it. But that doesn't make it easier to swallow when fans are trying to understand why some players get punished and others don't.