The Minnesota Wild lost team captain Mikko Koivu to injury in their game against the Calgary Flames, courtesy of a knee-on-knee hit by his opposing team captain, Mark Giordano. The NHL Department of Player Safety has since adjudged the hit worthy of a two-game suspension.
We spoke about the knee-on-knee hit when it happened, with my personal opinion being the suspension most worthy is an eye-for-an-eye suspension. If Mikko Koivu misses a month of action, so should Mark Giordano, given he’s the cause of the time the Minnesota Wild player misses.
Obviously, that isn’t the way the world works, especially not the NHL Department of Player Safety, who can make some rather questionable decisions on suspension lengths from time-to-time.
The perfect comparison in terms of this knee-on-knee hit was one that the Minnesota Wild themselves suffered a few years back in the play-offs.
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Then Wild winger, Matt Cooke made contact with Colorado Avalanche defenseman, Tyson Barrie. Despite not appearing to out-stretch his body in the manner of Giordano, Cooke was made an example of and served a seven-game suspension.
We’ve seen that predatory hits or hits with a degree of intent to injury do get punished in today’s NHL, but there still isn’t a clear example of what will and won’t be worthy of a suspension.
Even when suspensions get handed down, there’s no clarity over why one hit is deserving of two games versus one of three or four.
The Department of Player Safety review however does explain quite nicely why it is kneeing. They point out that it wasn’t a sudden movement by the Minnesota Wild player that creates the knee-on-knee situation. They highlight that Koivu’s path was both in a straight line and predictable, thus Giordano’s move is with intent.
Perhaps what has saved Mark Giordano from a far more extensive suspension and fine is the fact that in his whole 784-game NHL career, he has only be fined once.
Conclusion being that Giordano isn’t like Tom Wilson; he doesn’t seek out trouble. However, the move was ill-timed and the end result was an injury to the Minnesota Wild captain. The suspension, whilst we’d have liked to have seen maybe a couple more games, is in all probability fair.