Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday we ask the Globe's roster of hockey writers to answer a question on the hot topic of the day.
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Today's question: Does Ottawa Senators forward Nick Foligno deserve to be suspended for the hit shown in the clip below from last night's game? No penalty was called on the play.
UPDATE: Nick Foligno was fined $2,500 on Friday for an illegal check to the head on Carolina's Patrick Dwyer. No penalty was called on the play. The fine is the maximum permitted under terms of the collective bargaining agreement.
"While there was no injury as a result of the hit, it is clear that Foligno delivered a shoulder check from the blind side that made primary contact with Dwyer's head," NHL senior executive vice-president of hockey operations Colin Campbell said in a release.
"It is also clear that Foligno was delivering the hit in an attempt to get the puck. Finally, in determining that a fine was the appropriate discipline for this incident, I took into account that Foligno has not been suspended previously by the league."
I was at the game and while I do believe an argument can be made for no suspension, I am going to argue strongly for one -- at least a game. The message clearly isn't getting through. Just as parking tickets are meaningless if they cost next to nothing, so, too, with discipline in hockey. And given that the "punishment" available in fines does not even amount to pocket change -- piffle, the players say -- the one punishment that registers is losing games when one is healthy. In the case of Foligno, missing a game will hurt far more than the lost money -- the reason being that he is off to a flat start after a stellar exhibition season and, I would suggest, his job as a top-six forward is very much on the line. He needs to play. He needs to score. And he needs to learn. So the NHL should teach him a small, quick and perhaps effective lesson.
This is a really tough call but I will say no suspension. This hit does have some characteristics of the blind-side hits that are the target of the new penalty but not enough to warrant a suspension.
Foligno appears to have his gaze toward the puck as much as on Dwyer. Also, he is not churning his feet to build up a good charge and he did not lower the point of his shoulder into Dwyer's head. Foligno did lean into Dwyer to make the hit but it was not an act of head-hunting in my view.
Not sure if I would want Colin Campbell's job under any circumstances and the primary reason is the just the sort of decision he's going to have to make on the Nick Foligno hit against the Carolina Hurricanes' Patrick Dwyer during Thursday night's NHL game between the two teams. Hurricanes' coach Paul Maurice was pretty clear about what he saw - Foligno's shoulder to Dwyer's head. It wasn't a north-south collision, which is still permitted under the blindside headshot rule adopted by the NHL last year. Ergo, there should be a suspension - and indeed he's' right. Something should be assessed. But what? How much?
At some point, the NHL will have to throw the book at a head-hunting player, trying to hurt an opponent with a vicious blow to the head. All the concussion research points in that direction. Even the appetite for ramping up the supplementary discipline is growing among NHL players, who - more and more - believe that the league needs to do a better job of policing its own game. There are just too many players are being hauled off the ice on stretchers, going to hospital, then spending an indeterminate time on the sidelines trying to recover.
Thankfully, this wasn't one of them. Dwyer got right up and continued to play.
But even if he'd been hurt, I'm not sure if this hit is the right time to draw that important line in the sand. A couple of days ago, Sabres' goalie Ryan Miller called on the league to "wake up" and send for a message to players about what is and what isn't allowed, after Buffalo's Jason Pominville was concussed by a hit from behind by the Blackhawks' Niklas Hjalmarsson. The Blackhawks weren't even sure if was a penalty. Campbell's verdict there - two games - settled somewhere between those two points of view. It'll probably be the same here. Like it or not, one of Campbell's criteria for supplementary discipline is whether a player was injured - and to what extent.
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