Columbus Blue Jackets prospect Dalton Smith (OHL Images)When Columbus Blue Jackets prospect Dalton Smith got a checking-to-the-head major and game misconduct on Friday after levelling Daniil Zharkov in a Belleville-Ottawa playoff game, many presumed a suspension would soon follow. No matter that it was inconclusive at best whether the Ottawa 67's forward made contact with Zharkov's head, let alone targeted the Belleville Bulls right wing's noggin.
Say whatever one wants about the Ontario Hockey League's disciplinary actions and whether double-digit-game suspensions are a true deterrent, but not suspending Smith shows it has not become totally inflexible. In a season chock full of lengthy bans for headshots, the league has exonerated Smith, a repeat offender.
That doesn't mean it's sitting well, especially in Belleville where there was confusion recently when Bulls forward Alex Carnevale for got an eight-game ban for an open-ice check where it appeared he did not nail London's Bo Horvat in the head.
From veteran Bulls beat writer Paul Svoboda:
Replays clearly show Smith raising his arms to make contact with Zharkov's head. Referees were in the correct position to make the call — five for check-to-the-head and game misconduct.
They got it right.
Now, here's where it gets muddy. Smith is a two-time repeat offender, with a pair of prior OHL suspensions under his heavyweight belt, including 10 games in September for a blatant elbow to the head of Belleville goalie, Malcolm Subban.
Plus, the OHL, whether you like it or not, has made it abundantly clear it wants to eradicate its game of any kind of contact to the head or borderline legal hits to players in a vulnerable position.
So Smith gets squat for this?
Unbelievable. (Belleville Intelligencer)
Did Smith "rais(e) his arms to make contact with Zharkov's head," though? The Sportsnet replay, collected by the indispensable Kats Jean, shows that Zharkov's upper torso was the principal point of contact as Smith thrust his forearms into the Belleville forward.
Read More »from Ottawa 67′s Dalton Smith cleared on Daniil Zharkov check; why the OHL was correct