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Questionable hit worthy of suspension?

Last night the Washington Capitals had a 1-0 lead on the playoff hungry Atlanta Thrashers when forward Colby Armstrong made an open ice hit on the Capital’s Matthieu Perreault. Armstrong’s left arm went up during contact and it appeared he may have left his feet. Armstrong was penalized for his altercation with Capital’s Shaone Morrisonn following the hit, but not for the hit itself.

Should the league suspend Armstrong? Well, lets go over a few things. Was the hit from the blindside? No. As much as some are trying to compare it to the league’s new head shot rule, this would not fall in that category. Armstrong was coming at Perreault head on, and Perreault knew he was coming. His head was mostly up, and at the last second he tried to somewhat avoid the hit, a factor that may make it look worse than it really was.

Was it an elbow to the head? A dirty play that is already illegal in the NHL. In my opinion, no. Yes Armstrong lead with his arm, knowing exactly where that arm was going, but if you watch the replay closely enough it was more his hand and his forearm than his elbow. Does that make it right? Absolutely not.

Did he leave his feet? I have heard some say that they think he did, but the truth is, Armstrong’s feet did not leave the ice until he made contact with Perreault. The definition of charging is, “Taking more than three strides or jumping before hitting an opponent” Feet left the air after initial contact so it doesn’t fall under that category either.

Was it intent to injure? Yes, that can be argued. While Armstrong was coming straight for Perreault, he could have easily completed an open ice hit without lifting his arm/hand/elbow what have you. That alone may make this worthy of a suspension. But you never know with the inconsistencies of the NHL who again, in my opinion, seem like they feel it is their privilege to choose who they punish not because of the seriousness of the incident, but because they can.

In the process of this post, Chris Vivlamore reported that Armstrong has been suspended 2 games by the NHL.

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