January 26, 2011
Florida Panthers third overall pick Erik Gudbranson's long, strange post-draft season continues. As BTN wondered out loud over the weekend, the charging major the Kingston Frontenacs defenceman received last Saturday has led to his second suspension of the season. He's out "indefinitely" for what looked like a flying elbow at Oshawa Generals forward J.P. Labardo, who received five games for a checking-to-the-head major.
How much of this ties in with all the drama between the player and his team — and how much is just par for the course with the Ontario Hockey League? It cannot be sloughed off as a coincidence this went down at the same time as that widely publicized disagreement between Gudbranson and the Frontenacs.
Ultimately, the OHL is very hard-line about cracking down on gratuitous aggression. Leaping into the air to board a player crosses the line. That's the way it is. Labardo's major was a bit dodgy, although he did not exactly try to veer away from colliding with goaltender Phillip Grubauer:
Gudbranson, who was suspended earlier in the year for a head shot, probably won't suffer any loss of reputation. He was avenging a hit on his goalie. Suspensions are a fact of life. The big takeaway is the OHL punished the act, not the damage it caused.
That is in keeping with the endless push to present a kindler, gentler league during the endless recruiting battle with the NCAA.
Gudbranson's suspension is one of five multi-game bans the OHL meted out on Wednesday. Four involve his team in some way.
Labardo's Oshawa Generals teammate, Sam Sabourin, will five games for a checking-from-behind major penalty (even his coach wasn't touching that) last Sunday against the London Knights.
Saginaw Spirit forward Garret Ross will miss six games for attacking Kingston's Nathan Moon off a faceoff last Sunday. Ross punctuated it with a knee to the head as he was getting up.
Frontenacs forward Conor Stokes will miss three games for a kneeing major after a dirty hit on Saginaw Spirit defenceman Peter Hermenegildo.
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet.