Arron Asham of the Pittsburgh Penguins has been suspended for four games — which would be the rest of their first-round series, should they pull off a miracle rally — for his attack on Brayden Schenn of the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals.
At first glance, this might seem preposterous, given the violent, targeted nature of the incident, which involved his stick. But watch the Brendan Shanahan explanation here:
Indeed, hockey is a game of inches; in Asham's case, the inches between his stick striking Schenn in the chest vs. in the face is the space between a 4-game suspension and a much more significant, Chris Simon-esque ban had there been an injury.
That said: "The violent, vengeful nature of the high stick is unacceptable."
Combined with the punches to a prone Schenn on the ice, and Asham earned his suspension.
Did they get it right?
From the NHL, which suspended James Neal of the Penguins for one game earlier on Tuesday:
Pittsburgh Penguins forward Arron Asham has been suspended for four games for cross-checking Philadelphia Flyers forward Brayden Schenn during Game 3 of the teams' Eastern Conference Quarterfinal playoff series Sunday in Philadelphia, the National Hockey League's Department of Player Safety announced today.
The incident occurred at 14:15 of the first period. Asham was assessed a match penalty for attempt to injure.
Using the old equation of each playoff game being worth two regular-season games, this would be an eight-game ban — putting Asham, a first-time offender, in line with the suspensions earned by repeat offenders like Andy Sutton (8 games) and Dan Carcillo (7 games) in the regular season.
Admittedly, the stick to the "throat" on the initial views made this look worse that it actually was. Still dirty, still intent to injure, and still worth the 4-game ban it was given.