The Daniel Carcillo verdict is official. The New York Rangers left winger gets 10 games for elbowing linesman Scott Driscoll in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference final against Montreal. In case you're wondering, that means Carcillo misses the rest of the playoffs unless the Rangers and Habs go to Game 7, the Rangers win, and the Rangers reach a Game 7 in the Stanley Cup final.
If you haven't seen the fracas yet, which occurred because Carcillo was enraged over the Derek Stepan hit, watch it here:
The league stated Carcillo "physically applied force to linesman Scott Driscoll while being escorted to the penalty box." Fair enough. Upon reading further into official league rules that fuelled the decision, however, I wonder if Carcillo should've received 20 games, not 10.
The suspension falls under NHL Rule 40, Physical Abuse of Officials, and calls for an exact ban of three, 10 or 20 games depending on severity. Any contact with a ref is evaluated and placed in one of the three categories. For the sake of argument, I'll show them in their entirety:
40.2 Automatic Suspension – Category I - Any player who deliberately strikes an official and causes injury or who deliberately applies physical force in any manner against an official with intent to injure, or who in any manner attempts to injure an official shall be automatically suspended for not less than twenty (20) games. (For the purpose of the rule, “intent to injure” shall mean any physical force which a player or goalkeeper knew or should have known could reasonably be expected to cause injury.)
40.3 Automatic Suspension – Category II - Any player who deliberately applies physical force to an official in any manner (excluding actions as set out in Category I), which physical force is applied without intent to injure, or who spits on an official, shall be automatically suspended for not less than ten (10) games.
40.4 Automatic Suspension – Category III - Any player who, by his actions, physically demeans an official or physically threatens an official by (but not limited to) throwing a stick or any other piece of equipment or object at or in the general direction of an official, shooting the puck at or in the general direction of an official, spitting at or in the general direction of an official, or who deliberately applies physical force to an official solely for the purpose of getting free of such an official during or immediately following an altercation shall be suspended for not less than three (3) games.
So Carcillo's ban was ruled a Category II offense. Why? Watch the video again. Direct elbow to the jaw. Can someone ever elbow someone else in the face without intent to injure? If you're a mixed martial arts fan like me, you know an elbow is about as vicious a strike as you can throw. Could that not, to quote rule 40.2, "reasonably be expected to cause injury"?
Unfortunately the mere presence of the words "reasonably" and "expected" in the rule implies subjectivity, and the league decided it felt Carcillo didn't want to injure Driscoll. But to me, it doesn't get much more crystal clear than elbowing a ref in the face. Not pushing, not grabbing, not spitting – elbowing in the face. That makes Carcillo lucky in my eyes.
What do you think, readers? Did Carcillo get off easy or was the punishment just right? A reminder before you comment: it's inaccurate to deem the ruling too harsh, as any deliberate contact guarantees a Category I or II suspension. Have at it.
Matt Larkin is an associate editor at The Hockey News and a regular contributor to the thn.com Post-To-Post blog. For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine. Follow Matt Larkin on Twitter at @THNMattLarkin