Buzzing The Net - Junior Hockey

Owen Sound Attack, Mike Halmo surprised by OHL suspension for Nail Yakupov hitThe focus with the Mike Halmo-Nail Yakupov collision ought to be on the Russian star's health. Since the Sarnia Sting are staying tight-lipped about the Saucy Tatar's status and the playoff prospects of two teams hang in the balance, it's not going to work that way.

So the spotlight is on Halmo, the Attack's captain and leading scorer, who doesn't know if he's already played his final Ontario Hockey League game. Halmo, who just signed with the NHL's New York Islanders, played on Sunday with the OHL's consent. Now that a few days have gone by and there are reports of Yakupov being out at least a week, everything's up in the air. Oh, and incidentally, the two teams involved are almost assured to meet in the playoffs.

From Bill Walker:

The fact that Halmo is even suspended is a bit of a surprise as OHL officials phoned the Attack on Sunday to tell them that their captain could play that afternoon against Plymouth.

The usual routine after a major penalty is for the player to be kept out of the lineup until the league has reviewed the incident. The time out of the lineup is counted against any suspension that the player receives.

"I was going to hold him out," Attack general manager Dale DeGray said. "They said they looked at it and they didn't feel there were any issues. Then they said that they thought that it should be reviewed (after looking at different camera angles of the incident). I'm a little frustrated (by this reversal)."

... "The league doesn't work on any set time frame," said DeGray. "I'd like them to tell us as soon as possible and I'm sure they will. How quick they respond to anything, that's up to them." (Owen Sound Sun Times)

Who knows what number the league will select (really). Between the appearance of Halmo leading with his forearm and his skates appearing to leave the ice before he made contact with Yakupov, who did duck as he tried to regain control of the puck, there likely will be enough to justify a suspension, although the fact Yakupov put himself in a vulnerable position warrants scrutiny.

The Attack's defence has been to compare the play with the Max Domi-Artur Gavrus collision earlier in the season that did not result in a suspension. One can see their point, since both involved a puck carrier who had his head lowered and he cut in from the wing toward the centre of the ice. The Attack have pointed out they didn't grieve it with the league, instead channeling it into being motivated against London.

Where the two plays deviate is that while there was head contact on the Domi play, his skates seemed to be planted and he kept his elbows in. This is a grey area with a lot of variables, not the least of which it's junior hockey and players are at different points in their physical maturation. It can never be fair. As for the league taking its time to decide, that is par for the course.

Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Contact him at neatesager@yahoo.ca and follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet (photo: OHL Images; video: TV Cogeco Ontario, Rogers  Community Television).

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