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Dany Heatley suspended two games for headshot

Mar 16, 2011, 9:18 PM EDT

Dany Heatley AP

While the NHL general managers met in Florida, word came down from the powers-that-be that Dany Heatley will sit for two games for his elbow to the head of Steve Ott. The star right wing is the Sharks’ second leading scorer with 24 goals and 34 assists in 71 games this season. So much for the NHL taking a stand on headshots.

Two games while similar cases received three games earlier this year. Two games while the GMs JUST SPENT days talking about headshots and what they can do to protect players’ safety. To punish him, he’ll miss games against the Wild and Blues—the two easier games left on the Sharks schedule. Good thing he’ll be back for those games against the Coyotes, Kings, and Flames. Otherwise, this punishment might have sent a message.

From the NHL’s official statement:

“San Jose Sharks forward Dany Heatley has been suspended for two games and will forfeit $80,645.16 in salary for delivering an elbow to the head of Dallas Stars player Steve Ott in NHL game #1049 last night, the National Hockey League announced today.”

The questionable suspension will be hard for some to digest because of the climate the judgment was delivered in. There are debates all over North America between fans, players, and executives discussing the state of the NHL and where the game should go from here. Is the league doing what it needs to do to protect the players? Is there enough respect between the players today? Some have gone as far as suggesting that all headshots should be banned. Then, in this atmosphere, the league hands down a decision that is WEAKER than the available precedent.

Let’s be clear—there is no gray area here. It was a dirty play that encapsulates everything that people are trying to get out of the game. Just because Steve Ott was able to walk away from the hit doesn’t change the fact that the hit was out-of-bounds.

Even media members in the Bay Area are mocking the decision:

“By then, everyone should have figured what is and isn’t allowable. Depending on time, place, officials, and the value of the head in question. But for now, Dany Heatley can breathe a sigh of relief. At a time when the NHL said it would crack down on head shots, it decided to hold the crackdown another day.”

The problem is there is no excuse for this kind of play. It’s a shot to the head. It’s a clear elbow with the worst of intentions. It’s not a “hockey play.” Yet with all of those key hot-button issues encapsulated in one play, the league still refuses to send a message.

Like Mr. Ratto said, maybe next time.

  1. sharksfan24 - Mar 16, 2011 at 10:34 PM

    Sorry Matt, but Mr. Ratto (WHO HAS LIMITED TO NO HOCKEY KNOWLEDGE) was not knocking Heatley or the Sharks. He was mocking the NHL. A league which is becoming a joke when it comes to penalties.

    First lets state that the Jamie Lagenbrunner boarding to the head shot that was not called led to Niklas Wallin, led Wallin to leave the game and not come back. Not only that but Wallin is hurt because of this hit which was not called a penalty.

    And here lye’s the problem. Enforcement of existing rules. You get a no call on a dirty cheap shot hit, and then get a call later in the game on a hit that never fully contacted Ott. Should it have been a penalty YES, but so should have the Lagenbrunner hit as well. And there is the problem, referees not enforcing existing rules, or referees not consistently calling penalties. The bottom line is a penalty is a penalty regardless of the team the player or the time the penalty occurs, or the situation in the game. Call the penalties consistently and you would see a cut down on head shots. But to say that an attempt to hit a player in the head, is more serious then a boarding where a player strikes is head, and is hurt is just as bad. And what kind of message does it send to players. Inconsistency is what it sends.

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