The Calgary Flames have lost veteran forward Milan Lucic for the next two games and it sounds like they are not the least but happy about it. On Sunday the National Hockey League's Department of Player Safety announced that they had suspended Lucic for 2 games for "roughing" Columbus blue Jackets rookie forward Kole Sherwood, but the incident that led to the suspension can only be described as a sucker punch on the part of Lucic.
As you would expect the Flames and their staff were asked about the suspension handed down by the league on Sunday and surprisingly Flames general manager Brad Treliving spoke openly about his disagreement with the league's decision. Treliving remained respectful in his comments to be sure but there can be absolutely no doubt here that the Flames feel the decision from the NHL was a bad one. It's rare to hear an NHL general manager be so open in his disagreement with a league decision and although I disagree with Treliving here I can certainly appreciate his candor.
"I have the utmost respect for George Parros and the Department of Player Safety," said Treliving on Sunday, before opening about his disagreement regarding the suspension. "They do a great job. But on this one, we vehemently disagree."
It seems that Treliving's disagreement comes not from the fact that he disagrees with how Lucic's actions have been characterized. No instead it sounds like Treliving believes that teams should have a right to defend their goaltenders, in this case Flames goaltender David Rittich.
"I saw a player who poked, jabbed, whacked, speared, whatever you want to call it, the goaltender. I think 31 teams around the league, if you do that to anybody, there is going to be a reaction."
All due respect to Treliving and the Flames I believe that it was the level of force with which Lucic responded that led to this suspension, not merely the fact that he defended his goalie. It is true that Sherwood poked at Rittich after the initial save, but I think you would be hard pressed to argue that a sucker punch was warranted in this case. It was not just the one punch either, Lucic added several hammer fist to the head of Sherwood once he had fallen to the ice as well which in my opinion is what made this rise to the level of a suspension. In spite of this however Treliving is standing behind his player in this case.
"We support our player 100%. We want our players to support each other, back each other up, and we felt that’s what Milan was doing in this case."