Minnesota Wild forward Pierre-Marc Bouchard was suspended for two games without pay by the NHL on Sunday for high sticking Columbus’ Matt Calvert in the face Saturday night.
According to Bouchard’s agent, Allan Walsh, it is the most controversial suspension yet of the Brendan Shanahan era.
In a statement Sunday night, Walsh issued a harsh rebuke of the suspension. He referred to the 20-minute hearings as “kangaroo courts” and called the suspension “a shameful farce” for the NHL. Below is the complete text.
STATEMENT FROM ALLAN WALSH, AGENT FOR PIERRE-MARC BOUCHARD
Pierre-Marc Bouchard is one of the most sportsmanlike and gentlemanly players in the game today. In a career spanning 9 NHL seasons, he’s acquired a grand total of 2 major penalties.
On the play in question last night, even the 2 on ice officials did not deem Pierre-Marc’s actions worthy of a major penalty.
It’s important to note that in 2008-09, Pierre-Marc was the victim of a headshot that resulted in a serious concussion with extensive symptoms that kept him out of action for 1.5 years.
There is no one who supports ridding the game of headshots, blindside hits and dangerous hits from behind more than Pierre-Marc. What occurred on the play in question last night was none of the above. The notion that Pierre-Marc Bouchard intentionally swung his stick into the face of an opponent is patently absurd. He’s just not that kind of player.
What message is Brendan Shanahan sending with this unwarranted suspension? All perennial Lady Byng candidates should now be on notice that when an opponent high sticks himself in the mouth, he can expect a minimum suspension of 2 regular season NHL games. This result is a shameful farce for the League.
All in all, these 20 minute disciplinary hearings are nothing more than kangaroo courts. More League effort goes into writing scripts and producing slick videos than in getting to the real facts of what occurred on the ice. It’s an inherent conflict of interest for an employee of the NHL to be conducting these hearings and imposing suspensions on players. It’s time for a neutral 3rd party not associated with the league or the players to take over supplementary discipline as this system clearly does not work.
Bouchard appealed the suspension but it was upheld Monday after a morning hearing. The suspension will cost him US$44,108.
With 1:06 left in the second period in Minnesota’s 4-2 victory, Bouchard hit Calvert in the face with his stick, injuring the Columbus player in the process. Bouchard was assessed a double-minor for high sticking
— with files from THE CANADIAN PRESS