The New York Rangers will be without one of their most fiery players in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Brandon Prust will serve a one-game suspension for an elbow that connected with the head of New Jersey Devils defenseman Anton Volchenkov in Game 3.
When the play in question occurred, no penalty was called on the Rangers winger. Volchenkov did fall to the ice after the collision and took a few extra seconds to gather himself before heading to the bench. He was not injured on the play and did not miss a shift for the remainder of the game, supporting the claim that he may have been milking the hit some in an attempt to draw a penalty.
So, to recap the scenario: no penalty + no injury + no missed ice time = one (huge) game suspension.
Did we miss something?
Now hold on a second, doesn’t a players history come into play when deciding what sort of punishment should be served? Yes. Well, it’s supposed to at least.
Brandon Prust is one of the more fervent Rangers and he does currently lead the league in fighting majors (20). However, in his career that has run over 300 professional hockey games, he has been handed just TWO penalties for elbowing, the maneuver keeping him out of Game 4.
The play was describe as “reckless” by the league’s disciplinarian, Brendan Shanahan, but there seems to be plenty of room for argument on this particular play.
A one-game suspension does not sound all that bad until that “one game” is in the middle of an Eastern Conference Finals. Every NHL game played from here on out can rightfully be called the most significant game of the year for the teams involved. This is not the time of year for Shanahan to be tossing out penalties on a whim. With all that is at stake, there needs to be more thought and consideration before such punishments are handed out.
The deed is done so there is no sense in complaining. However, after this incident and some of the others that have gone on in these playoffs in regard to suspensions, someone may need to reevaluate how well Mr. Shanahan is doing his job.
Coach John Tortorella will likely use Stu Bickel and/or Steve Eminger to fill the hole left by the suspended Prust.
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