Sunday, September 25, 2011

On the Wisniewski suspension

After the Clutterbuck hit, how long will
we have to wait to see James Wisniewski
 playing for the Blue Jackets again?
James Wisniewski has been suspended indefinitely by the NHL following the hit he laid on Minnesota's Cal Clutterbuck on Friday night.  The exact length of his suspension will be known following a hearing with the NHL, one which Wiz has waived his right to be heard in person.

I was out of town and didn't see the hit, so I don't know whether to believe the Dispatch:
It occurred in the final minute of the game. Clutterbuck took a run at Blue Jackets defenseman Fedor Tyutin along the end boards, and [James] Wisniewski went over to confront Clutterbuck. It looked like the two were going to fight, but instead they rejoined play for the final 30 seconds of the game.  
When the final buzzer sounded, Clutterbuck appeared to circle back and skate up on Wisniewski, who blasted him with his elbow or shoulder, sending Clutterbuck to the ice. A skirmish ensued, and Wisniewski was sent to the penalty box, dinged for high-sticking. That's where he was sitting when the Wild scored to win 4-3 in overtime.
...or the Minnesota beat writer:
As for wisniewski, he chased Clutterbuck around ice for 7 or 8 seconds before intentional, retaliatory blow to head for check on tyutin
That doesn't stop me from wanting to offer some wider perspective on this matter.

First, I appreciate the notion Wiz raises, that of, "That’s my partner, the guy I’m going to play with the next six years here. [...] With him getting run at the end of the game, I was going over there to let (Clutterbuck) know we’ll stick up for each other and that’s not going to be tolerated." (Dispatch).  Had he not displayed any competitive aggression over Clutterbuck's move, I'd probably be a bit worried.

That being said, Wiz has to realize that he is The Man on the Blue Jackets' blue line.  To be The Man, and to be suspended indefinitely pending a (Monday?) hearing with the NHL front office, is entirely incompatible.  To be The Man and to be suspended for regular season games (as is widely predicted amongst the NHL intelligentsia) is unacceptable.

Wiz has been known to lose his cool in the past, and it's landed him in hot water with the NHL.
Wiz is not a junior blue liner any more.  He's a highly compensated, critical member of the Columbus Blue Jackets' defensive corps.  He must realize that he's a repeat offender under the NHL's disciplinary structure, and any transgression he makes will hurt him and his team disproportionately worse than that of a first-time offender like Buffalo's Brad Boyes.  Sure, he's likely to lose a lot of money - well over $500,000 if Rogers' Nick Kypreos is correct in his guesstimate - but he's also putting his team and teammates at a tremendous disadvantage. There are other ways to retaliate, ways that don't involve missing game after game due to suspension.

Very, very disappointing.  I still consider myself an early Wiz fan - he brings so much to the Blue Jackets in terms of skill and attitude that they so badly need - but what good is he when he's not on the ice due to his own behavior?

UPDATE: Here's a fan video that includes the hit. Start the video around 0:42 and let it roll. Not the best video, to be sure (and nothing upon which I can base any judgement), but it's something.  Thanks to Skraut, Wooten and the crew at HFBoards for making me aware of this:


FURTHER UPDATE: The decision is in, and Wiz is out for the rest of the preseason and the first eight preseason games.


  1. CBJ @ Wild, game 2 on 10/8 ... suspension probably goes through that game, yes? Then back on ice for home stand beginning 10/10

  2. Methinks there is something of an overreaction to there "blows to the head' in the preseason, much as the obstruction and other rule changes over the last couple of training camps. That said, I saw several hits of this type not even penalized over the course of the games shown on N H L this weekend. Looking for a remainder of preseason with maybe one regular season game, although I don't think that much is warranted.


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