Sat Feb 19 12:06pm EST
Owen Sound Attack star Joey Hishon receiving a six-game ban for an after-the-whistle punch is bound to cause some hue and cry.
After all, this is a star player and the suspension was assessed on a play (1:47 in clip) where Hishon was not penalized for punching Niagara IceDogs star centre Ryan Strome (out indefinitely with an upper-body injury). That leaves the Ontario Hockey League open to complaints about a inconsistencies, or people seeing it as a squeaky-wheel deal, since the Colorado Avalanche first-round choice received one game beyond what IceDogs coach-GM Marty Williamson did for his theatrics and post-game tirade after the Hishon-Strome encounter.
All of that, of course, is beside the point equivocation. The Ontario Hockey League has a very low tolerance for such acts. The bottom line, regardless of what Strome said that apparently crossed the line, is Hishon punched an unsuspecting player.
Then-Barrie Colts captain Dalton Prout (now with the Saginaw Spirit, Owen Sound's closest pursuer for first place in the OHL's Western Conference) received an eight-game ban in November for a similar punch on Kingston Frontenacs right wing Michael Fine. The main difference was Prout's punch was actually penalized with a major/match penalty, leaving no room to equivocate. Suspending a player for something that went unpenalized won't quell any (quite valid) criticisms of the league's officiating
Meantime, Williamson's spin in Niagara is the IceDogs will be better for it, notwithstanding their coach will miss a crucial conference showdown against Missisauga on Sunday.
Williamson said he received many pats on the back from his players, who appreciated seeing their coach have their back.
"I've had a bunch of the guys come up to me and I told them they go through the wall for me and for this organization, and there's times when I'm going to take a stand," Williamson said. "There are a lot of times we have to bite our lips and just take things, but this was a time when I wasn't going to allow that to happen.
"I think we'll be a better team for it." (St. Catharines Standard)
The fallout for each contender will bear watching. Attack followers no doobt are aware Owen Sound is 10-1-0-0 when their leading scorer has not been in the lineup, but eight of those games were very early in the season, virtually ancient history. The Attack have soldiered through with core players out before this season, though.
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet. (Photo: OHL Images.)