To the Ontario Hockey League, it's a procedural deal but to many others, it's going to come across like Anthony Stolarz is getting off lightly. The league believes it followed the rule of precedent.
Any suspension the OHL applied during league playoffs can be removed before the Memorial Cup tournament, and often is. The end result of doing so with Stolarz is that the London Knights goalie will only end up missing 40 per cent as many games for his stick swing at Windsor's Josh Ho-Sang as Ho-Sang will miss for incidental contact that went horribly, horribly wrong.
From Ryan Pyette (@@RyanatLFPress):
last three games of the OHL final for spearing after racking up 35 missed regular-season games due to suspension.
In 2000, Barrie's Ryan O'Keefe was handed an indefinite ban that lasted more than 20 games for a faceoff slewfoot of North Bay's Derrell Upton, who broke his ankle on the play.
Those two players were granted permission to take part in the Memorial Cup that season. Their situations are a big reason why London goalie Anthony Stolarz had the final two games shaved off his eight-game penalty for a one-handed hack to the back of Windsor centre Josh Ho-Sang's head.
“We rely on what happened in the past and the fact there was no injury on the play, fortunately,” OHL vice-president Ted Baker said. “We've addressed similar situations in the past. It was out of our control how many games London would play but we made it clear right from the start his participation in the Memorial Cup would be reviewed once the Knights' season was over.
“It's not like something we're making up as we go along here. It was something communicated within the original suspension release.” (London Free Press)
It is no shock, but there is an obvious difference that bears highlighting.
The OHL had vastly different suspension protocols in 1992 and 2000, so it's arguable that things have changed. One can also contend that both O'Keefe, who missed 24 games, and Chris Simon, served the minimum sentence for their misdeeds. In the contemporary OHL, an eight-game suspension is usually the starting point for a suspension for a non-hockey play. Yet it's become a six-game ban.
It will add up to Stolarz going 52 days between his last playoff game for London on March 25 and the Memorial Cup opener on May 16. It should be interesting to see how a 6-foot-6 goalie who is still working on his mechanics and movements comes out such a long span without any game action. That stretch is longer than the six weeks Stolarz missed in January and February after suffering a 55-stitch cut on his leg.
The decision is hardly a surprise, given the history. The OHL rationale is that there was "no injury on the play." There might not be much point revisiting this beyond the fact it's a talker before the start of the third round of the playoffs that involves the teams which can only reach the Memorial Cup by qualifying.
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet.
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