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San Jose Sharks

Sheng on Why Hertl High Stick Clear Suspension, Brazil & Brown Disagree

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Credit: Hockey Shots/Dean Tait

Check out my “Sharks Pregame Live” hit!

I talked about why the San Jose Sharks’ Tomas Hertl got suspended, while Mason Show and Ryan Carpenter got away with head shots to Radim Simek and Nico Sturm. “Sharks Pregame Live” hosts Brodie Brazil and Curtis Brown then discuss why Hertl should’ve got just a one-game suspension or a fine.

Sheng: The Tomas Hertl suspension comes down to this.

If the San Jose Sharks star had hit Elias Lindholm in the head – that was the NHL Department of Player Safety’s ruling, that Hertl’s high stick contacted Lindholm in the head – but if Hertl had hit Lindholm high with his glove, at that force, we’re not talking about any suspension.

You’re simply can’t use your stick that way. You cannot use your stick as a weapon to hit somebody in the head area because you’re mad, no ifs and buts. Worst case, you get a repeat of Marty McSorley-Donald Brashear, which nobody wants.

The NHL has been consistent on this point this year, see Evgeny Kuznetsov’s one-game suspension for hitting Kyle Burroughs high with his stick and Pierre Engvall’s one-game suspension for hitting Sean Durzi high with his stick, both retaliatory.

These suspensions aren’t strictly about head hits – I know that Mason Shaw escaped punishment for his high hit on Simek, Ryan Carpenter on Sturm – and I do think Shaw should’ve been suspended. But those were hockey plays, though gone wrong.

This is about head hits with a weapon because you’re mad – you don’t want to open up that can of worms, players feeling like it’s OK to use their sticks high because they’re upset. That’s not hockey, that’s sword fighting…and to the head.

Now I do think the two games for Hertl is harsh – I don’t see much difference between what Hertl did as opposed to Kuznetsov and Engvall. The San Jose Sharks centerman himself suggested today that because of these prior suspensions earlier this season for similar infractions, he’s being made an example of, to really drive the point to the players that high, retaliatory swings of stick aren’t acceptable. And he may have a point there.

But this has been a suspendable offense by the NHL all year. One or two games, it’s more than a fine, it’s more than a penalty.

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