Consistency lacking in Artyukhin suspension?
Just wondering here: I'm not saying Lightning wing Evgeny Artyukhin doesn't deserve a two-game suspension. But wasn't there as much of a gray area with his knee-to-knee hit on Florida's Ville Peltonen as with Alex Ovechkin's Jan. 1 hit on Lightning defenseman Jamie Heward, who still is out with a concussion?
Tampa Bay coach Rick Tocchet said the word he got from the league was that Artyukhin's knee-to-knee hit on Florida's Ville Peltonen was "reckless." Couldn't the same evaluation could be applied to Ovechkin's hit on Heward, which was from behind and added an elbow to the head to drive Heward into the corner boards at the Verizon Center? The league said Heward put himself in a vulnerable position before the hit by turning awkwardly to go get a puck, and that the hit wasn't "targeted," so there was no league discipline. But wasn't Ovechkin being reckless by checking an opponent from behind?
Perhaps the league was taking a cue from Artyukhin's hits on Montreal's Alex Tanguay and Los Angeles Drew Doughty that caused injuries. Problem with that is both of those checks were clean.
Tocchet said he did not agree with the league's action because, in his mind, Artyukhin did not extend his leg to initiate the collision. Artyukhin was given a tripping penalty.
"You obviously respect the process," he said. "They have to go through their thing but you don't have to agree with it. ... I just hope he doesn't get branded (by the referees). I hope he doesn't get tagged. He has to play aggressive to be in this league. ... But Mike Murphy (vice president of hockey operations) assured us the officials won't tag hi. We'll see how it goes."
As for Artyukhin, he said the whole thing was an accident, that he was going off the ice on a change when another Panthers player skated near him and he changed direction. Artyukhin said he apologized to Murphy when they spoke on the phone Sunday night.
"I apologized because I didn't do it on purpose," Artyukhin said. "I'm not a guy who tries to give injuries to players. I want to play physical, but I don't want to hit somebody like that."
Sounds a lot like Ovechkin after his hit on Heward.