x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

NHL's questionable handling of Duncan Keith's punishment

The officials blew the call, giving Keith a two-minute minor instead of a five-minute major and a game misconduct, and the rest of the contest degenerated into retribution.

Duncan Keith was given a five-game ban for his elbow on Daniel Sedin.
Duncan Keith was given a five-game ban for his elbow on Daniel Sedin.

Five games for a flying elbow would appear to be a light suspension, but five games for an accidental collision would seem severe. In other words, if you ask anyone in Vancouver, Duncan Keith got off easy. And if you ask anyone in Chicago, he was railroaded.

Chicago's Keith, a Norris Trophy winner two years ago as the NHL's best defenceman, delivered a lunging elbow to the head of the Vancouver winger Daniel Sedin, in a game last week.

The officials blew the call, giving Keith a two-minute minor instead of a five-minute major and a game misconduct, and the rest of the contest degenerated into retribution.

Then the league blew how it handled the case, first choosing to hold Keith's hearing over the telephone (which usually indicates a slap-on-the-wrist suspension) before changing course and giving Keith the right for a face-to-face meeting (which usually indicates a more severe punishment).

Keith opted for the phone, and the league split the difference. Keith, a first-time offender, was banned for five games.

The Canucks, who'll be without Sedin (suspected concussion) for at least two weeks, wanted more. A sentence of eight games would have resulted in Keith missing the rest of the regular season and, Chicago's first play-off game.

Instead, he gets to rest up for a week or so and then return in time to fine-tune for the postseason. But five games is still pretty significant, and it robs Chicago of their best defenceman and may impact on their play-off seeding.