You'd hope the NHL would be capable of teaching Jesse Boulerice a lesson by suspending him for a long time for his crosscheck to the head of Ryan Kesler Wednesday night.
You'd like to think that, wouldn't you?
But remember, you're dealing with a guy here who was suspended for life by the OHL in 1998 for a stick attack on an opponent during the playoffs. Because it was the last game of his team's post-season and Boulerice had played out his junior eligibility, the suspension was more a symbolic one than a punitive one.
So off Boulerice went to the AHL, where his Â“lifetime suspensionÂ” in the OHL caused him to miss the first six weeks of the season. In the AHL, he picked up four more suspensions totaling 16 games, then moved on to the NHL where he has forged a suspension-free, yet illustrious career that has seen him score eight goals and 10 points with 319 penalty minutes in 167 games.
The lessons just aren't getting through to this guy and another piddly five-game suspension isn't going to teach him anything. Boulerice will almost certainly have a hearing with NHL disciplinarian Colin Campbell in Toronto Friday, which will mark the second time in two weeks Flyers GM Paul Holmgren will have traveled to Toronto to try to somehow rationalize the idiotic behavior of one of his players.
It will be interesting to see how the league deals with Boulerice, since his actions fell under the cloud of both a vicious stick foul and a headshot. If it is treated as a headshot, Boulerice clearly meets two of the five criteria the league now uses when assessing head blows Â– he targeted an opponent's head and he hit an unsuspecting opponent in the head. You could even argue that he violated the timing/lateness element, considering Kesler didn't have the puck at the time.
Of course, he also attempted to injure someone and the offense occurred on a play that had nothing to do with hockey, two very important criteria when deciding on suspensions.
With a seemingly weakened NHL Players' Association, the league seems to have a little more sense of authority in issuing suspensions. The hope here is that the league stays the course on this one. The only thing that will teach a guy like this the lesson he needs is a whopper, a 50-game suspension would be nice. But anywhere in the Steve Downie range would be a step in the right direction.