By now, we’ve all seen the video. Brad Stuart, to the left of the Red Wing goal, does nearly a full-360 after getting a rock-solid elbow to the noggin. Stuart’s jaw was broken on the play and, though he won’t require surgery, the Red Wings will be without his services for six to eight weeks.
Red Wings fans were eagerly anticipating supplemental discipline from the League, which is notorious in its notoriousness, and it finally came down on Sunday afternoon. Kostopoulous will be required to miss six games, forfeiting nearly $30,000 in salary — which goes to the League’s emergency fund.
Perhaps more startling than the hit itself were the comments of Kostopoulos and Calgary Flames General Manager Jay Feaster. I like Jay Feaster a lot, I think he knows his hockey, got a bum deal in Tampa after winning a Cup, and I’m certain he’ll turn that franchise around and make it respectable over the next few seasons. Perhaps the following comments were made to stand in lock-step with his player, but I have a hard time believing a smart hockey guy like Feaster believes these words:
We strongly disagree, not only with the length of the suspension, but also with the fact that Tom was suspended. While we are sorry the player was injured, we maintained in the hearing the hit was a legal check. The player was batting at the puck and Tom hit him in the chest and finished his check through him. He did not target the head, and we do not believe the head was the initial point of contact. We respect the difficult job Colin Campbell has to do in these situation, and we appreciate the opportunity we were afforded to present our case; however, we simply do not agree with the decision.
Again, it could be posturing — hoping to get a more lenient deal in a future proceeding, should the Flames be the subject of another disciplinary hearing this season or next. But there you have it, Hockeytown, the general manager blames “The Player” for his injury, and not his man who has a history of suspensions and dirty plays.
For his part, the winger had the following to say regarding his ban:
I’m extremely disappointed in the League’s ruling as I believe I have not done anything illegal. I’m sorry that Brad was hurt on the play and I hope he returns to play soon, but it was never my intention to injure him and I definitely did not target the head. I maintain that I delivered a legal check to an opponent playing the puck. While I am upset with the League’s decision, I will serve the suspension in preparation for my return to the line-up to help my team.
At least he refers to Stuart with some humanity. And while I’m sure he means that he didn’t mean to hurt Stuart, and is genuinely hopeful that he can return to the game soon, I have a hard time swallowing the second half of that where he uses language like “I maintain that I delivered a legal check to an opponent playing the puck.” Clearly another in a long line of “sign here, affected roster player, so that our PR department may speak for you.”