Orange County native Jonathan Blum tried to take the puck away from Bobby Ryan behind the Nashville net last night, and the two players had the puck pinned between their skates and the boards. The Nashville defenseman was using his skate to shield the biscuit, and the Ducks winger stomped on the laces. Blum and Ryan may have shared words after the incident, with Blum visibly upset, and Ryan looking back as he skated away.
The NHL has issued suspensions for skate stomps in the past, most notably for Chris Pronger and Chris Simon, both during the regular season. Pronger went into the corner with Ryan Kesler, who fell down and attempted to grab Pronger's skate with his two skates while lying on his back. Pronger responded by stomping on Kesler's leg, and the NHL issued an 8 game suspension after supplementary review. Simon was skating back toward his bench door, and he noted that Jarko Ruutu, who wasn't facing him had his skate sticking out near the bench door. Simon went to trip Ruutu, who fell afterward, and after an NHL official was between them, Simon promptly on stomped the extended foot, leaving Ruutu grabbing his ankle in pain. Simon received a 30 game suspension.
Robby, there's a hearing this afternoon to determine if Bobby Ryan should be suspended for his actions. Do you think he should?
As the resident Bobby fanboy, my opinion is probably hopelessly tarnished to begin with. That said, I've watched the video that Puck Daddy is showing several times, and I don't think he should be suspended.
First of all, when I saw this play on last night's broadcast, I didn't even notice it. Only when my dad mentioned it was I even aware that something out of the ordinary had occurred. Nobody talked about it too much in the open thread (you and kvd123 did mention it, though), so I didn't even give it a second thought until I saw your email this morning asking me to comment on the play.
Watching the video, I have to agree with Wysh's take that there doesn't appear to be any intent to injure. It really looks like he's trying to kick Blum's skate out of the way, rather than stomp directly on it. I'm not sure what the implications of kicking a guy's skate are, but I'm pretty sure they're significantly less malicious than a deliberate stomp directly onto Blum's laces. That said, Bobby does make contact with Blum's laces, albeit at like a 45 degree angle. Blum's skate is in a weird spot, which causes Bobby to make contact with the laces instead of hitting the side of his boot (as I believe he intended). Homer glasses aside, it appears to me that Bobby is trying to kick Blum's skate, not stomp directly on it.
For reference purposes, I've also watched Pronger's stomp on Kesler and Simon's stomp on Ruutu. Both of those incidents are far more deliberate and are of the stomping variety. There's no question in either of those instances what the offending players were trying to do. Both of those resulted in suspensions, and rightfully so. However, I truly think that Bobby was trying to free up the puck in this instance, and I do not believe he was deliberately trying to injure Blum. As such, I don't think a suspension is worthy.
But, given all of my reasoning, it wouldn't surprise me if Bobby does miss tomorrow's contest. The league seems to be quick to suspend over the past month or so, so intent may not play a factor here at all.
I think he should be suspended.
I, personally, don't see a kick. Ryan's skate just lands too flush, at least the way I see it. It doesn't glance off of Blum, and Ryan doesn't seem to lose balance like he missed his target. He coils back and gets a good, quick stomp.
Even if it was a kick, he gets a stomp, and there has to be an element of strict liability with this kind of thing. I don't know Ryan's intent there. I honestly don't see the value of stomping on Blum's skate in this situation. It's not better than anything else he could have done to free up the puck, which probably means there's some chippy history coming into play.
And maybe Ryan isn't the kind of player where you can infer intent, though I think inference came into play more with Pronger's suspension than Simon's, as Simon's intent was pretty obvious. But looking at Pronger's play, it wasn't the most dangerous stomp. It was more of a 'dude, cut it out' after Kesler tried to put an MMA chopstick toehold on him from the ice. And I think the league laid a hefty suspension down as much to discourage the practice as to punish Pronger for his reputation.
And you should discourage this practice. This was a hearty stomp, regardless of the intention (which Ryan will likely have an opportunity to explain at his hearing). Games get chippy, but you have to draw a line. Not necessarily because Bobby Ryan will personally go out and stomp prone players in the face, but because you might build a culture comfortable with it.
Sticks are weapons; skate blades are dangerous. As heated as any game gets, you don't want players seeing their equipment as elements of self defense. Ask Juan Marichal how well that point of view works.