Here is what the official OHL site said with the news of the suspension.For those who haven't seen the Webster hit, here it is. Plays the puck almost simultaneously. It's a collision #OHL pic.twitter.com/C8gRFd5UpB— Craig Ripley (@Craig_Ripley) April 27, 2016
The Ontario Hockey League today announced the results of a review of two separate incidents which occurred in the playoff game played in St. Catharines on the 25th of April, 2016, involving the Niagara IceDogs and the visiting Barrie Colts Hockey Club.The video attached indicated that they went with 10 games because the league suggests the "Player left his feet", "Contact with head" and there was an "injury on the play". Lets break that down if we can.
The first incident reviewed was a checking to the head infraction involving player Michael Webster of the Barrie Colts Hockey Club.
Based on such review, it is the position of the League that player Michael Webster shall be suspended for ten (10) games effective immediately.
First, the "player leaves his feet" part. This is always something, at all levels gets looked at. Did Webster leave his feet? He absolutely did! But, did he before contact was made?
I would like to think the OHL has better technology to review plays than my cellphone but I was able to capture this screen shot of initial contact. Blurry? Yeah, but contact is made and it appears Webster still had 1 foot on the ice, contact was then made and the impact caused Webster to leave the ground. I am sure some of you are saying "the picture is blurry, you can't go by that". And that might be true, but I think it is pretty close to call and if you are uncertain, you are basically assuming and I don't think the league should be handing out suspensions (especially this long, in the playoffs) unless they are certain about something. It is safe to say that this could be debated.For those confused, Webster didn't leave feet to make hit but did following contact. #OHL pic.twitter.com/x8w5Or6Uog— Ryan Noble (@ryannoble66) April 27, 2016
Lets look at the second part. "Contact with head".
Okay, players should not be hitting each other in the head, but the Niagara player was extending to make contact with the puck moments before Webster made contact with him. If you look at the video, Webster established position and was committed to make a hit. With the player extending himself as he did, there was nowhere for Webster to even do anything but make contact. I think the fact that Webster glided through the hit instead of skating into was overlooked.
Players are taught at a young age to be aware of yourself and to keep your head up. With no last moment attempt to hit the puck out of the zone, this would have been a shoulder on shoulder collision and I am sure both players would have been fine.
Last part, "injury on the play"
You NEVER like seeing players get hurt, but why is this a factor? Should the only factor be intent? You hit 10 players in the head the same way and not everyone of them will respond the same. I have always been a strong believer that injury should not be a deciding factor in suspension because it has more to do with the player who is hits durability and less to do with the contact made by a player in review. This mindset also allows for players to "milk" hits knowing it will be considered if there is a review. No part of me thinks this is the case in this situation but players dive to draw calls. It is silly to think they wouldn't/don't on plays like these.
A factor left out here, is the old repeat offender rule that is considered in player hearings. That should no doubt be considered. So, how does a player with no history get 10 games as a first "offender"?
What are your thoughts? Was 10 games fair or do you feel this is a heavy suspension for a play that wasn't that bad?