By Allan Muir
A five-game suspension for Ryan White? Now we're starting to get somewhere.
Montreal's blunt object was banished to the sidelines for all but the final game of the regular season by the NHL's Department of Player Safety after a flat-out stupid hit on Philadelphia's Kent Huskins on Monday night.
It probably didn't take too many video reviews for Brendan Shanahan and crew to recognize that this was one of the easier calls they've faced this season. Huskins was skating the puck out from behind his own net and had just dished it off when White drew a bead on him, then slammed his shoulder directly into Huskins' chin. The force of the blow left Huskins with a concussion.
"Huskins is eligible to be checked on this play," Shanahan explained in the suspension video. "However, if White wants to finish this check, he needs to take a different angle and hit Huskins more through the body. Instead, he overshoots Huskins and drives up through the head with significant force, picking Huskins' head and causing an injury."
White seems like a player who can't get out of his own way sometimes, so this five-gamer might be the best thing that's happened to him. The Habs can use his physicality, but he has to get his head screwed on straight. If this time-out helps him do that, well, there may be a future for him. He's a restricted free agent after this season, though, so he won't have much time to convince the Canadiens that he can responsibly fill a role in their bottom six.
Good job here by the DOPS. This was exactly the type of hit that requires a message and five games does the trick, at least by this season's standards. If this becomes the baseline for head shot sanctions moving forward, it will look like an even better ruling for the league.