History has been made: Josh Ho-Sang might be the first-player to get a 15-game suspension due to a play where the refs called a holding penalty. Talk about a bad week, since Ho-Sang has also been left off Canada's roster for the world under-18 championship.
During the Spitfires' final game of the season, Ho-Sang gave the London Knights' Zach Bell a shove, which contributed to the overage defenceman being "knocked off balance into the boards," where he broke his right fibula in the awkward collision. The play seemed like the type of incidental contact that happens dozens of times in a game — careless, but not out of the ordinary — except for the fact it had disastrous consequences for Bell. Unlike checking from behind or checking to the head, though, it hasn't been the subject of a league crackdown, so that is probably why there is shock that Ho-Sang got 15 games.
It all happened so fast, and it involved an ingrained behaviour. Yet the Spitfire will miss nearly twice as many games as London's Anthony Stolarz got for hitting Ho-Sang in the head with his stick during the same series.
The did-Bell-fall, was-he-pushed debate could go on endlessly — how much of this was caused by the 166-pound player's shove and how do much did the 233-pound Bell contribute to it by being off balance when the contact came?
It's fair to conclude the OHL might have judged this more by the outcome. There is no way to have elite hockey without injuries.
That is all well and good if the OHL follows up by giving players options about what to do in similar game situations while still playing aggressively. It might also want to follow up with its officials as to why a play that, judging from the suspension's severity, has now been declared to have directly led in Zach Bell's broken leg was only a two-minute penalty. Following a play in 2011 where there was no suspension to London's Max Domi for a check that resulted in a brain injury for Owen Sound's Artur Gavrus, the league's stance was that its "intent isn't to re-referee games." Going from that to the officials deciding only to give a two-minute minor while a stretcher was out for a stricken Knights player makes it look like the officials made a mistake. That is provided that the OHL is being consistent with supplemental discipline.
At the time of the play, the thought did cross one's mind that Ho-Sang could receive a suspension that could affect his availability for the U18. That said, the two developments are related but not necessarily connected; Hockey Canada probably made up its own mind about whom it was taking to Finland.
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet (video: TV Cogeco Ontario).
- Sports & Recreation
- Zach Bell
- London Knights