Admits my little hissy fit at the Habs, I forgot to write something up about the suspension of Michael Liambas for his hit on Ben Fanelli. I wrote a very brief thing condemning the hit on the Kitchener Rangers' forward. The other day, OHL commissioner David Branch took a step in what I thin is a positive direction, by suspending Liambas for the season as well as any playoff games that his team might play in.
After the hit was aired and numerous news stations, I was surprised that most people saw nothing wrong with the net. Everyone agreed that it was legal, while some did acknowledged that it was dirty. Most said Fanelli should have done a better job to protect himself. Needless to say, I wasn't impressed with this reaction. I was even less impressed when many called Liambas' suspension "too harsh".
Look, I get that Fanelli turned away, did not have his helmet properly secured and all that. I do not believe for a second that Liambas intended to seriously injure Fanelli. But this was not a freak accident like the puck hitting Fanelli's head or a skate slashing him. Liambas went full out at Fanelli and he could not have stopped even if he wanted to. The intent to hit Fanelli was there.
I'm not just blaming Liambas here. I think the problem runs deeper than this single hit. When over half of my twitter feed - filled with "normal" fans like me - actually say that Branch was wrong to hand down such a harsh "sentence" on Liambas, then there's a deeper issue. We're creating a hockey culture that endorses serious injuries. That would take too long to get into here, but I believe Branch was right to stand up for his players.
I wish the NHL would follow suit. Bettman and Colin Campbell should not be standing aside while their players get concussion due to dangerous hits. As I said in my earlier blog post about this, the NHL should be setting an example for the rest of the leagues in North America. All other levels of hockey look to the NHL as their role model. I'm pretty sure if Campbell had decided to suspend Richards or Ladd for their hits on Booth and D'Agostini respectively, then there would be not be as big an uproar against Liambas' suspension.