I am not usually a fan of Damien Cox, but he does bring up some good points here. I was thinking about this as well.
Damien Cox, Toronto Star -- But the question NHL hanging judge Brendan Shanahan needs to ask himself is whether justice will be done if Kessel is suspended and the Buffalo Sabres don't receive any sanctions at all, not even a token fine.I know that there’s going to be a few people that think that Phil Kessel had a beat down coming. But I ask you; think about it this way. Interchange Leafs forward Phil Kessel with Sidney Crosby, Patrice Bergeron, Zach Parise or even Jonathan Toews. Now I got your attention, right? Do we really want a two-bit goon like John Scott beating the bejesus out of a star player? Do we want him to just take liberties against marquee players? First off, I am not a dove by any stretch of the imagination. I love a good bare knuckles brawl, but the head coach of the Maple Leafs bares some of the blame in this situation.
If Shanahan chooses that option, he will be in effect opening the door to a strategy in which enforcers can jump star players on opposing teams without the league coming down hard on them. The league should protect its marquee players, although it seldom makes that a priority and instead allows the Patrick Kaletas of the world to run wild. You can say Kessel did wrong, but you better have a explanation as to how he should have handled a 6-foot-8 goon who had already dropped his gloves.
You can argue the goon in question, John Scott, did nothing overly wrong under the rules of the game, other than breaking them and getting a penalty. But in combination with Buffalo coach Ron Rolston, Scott instigated the entire affair by doing what most NHL people would argue is completely against the culture and spirit of the game, and that's menacing a skill player who had done absolutely nothing to provoke Scott.
Here’s a couple of questions that I will pose to the readers. Should Goons be going after skilled players? How’s a skilled players like Phil Kessel supposed to respond in this situation? Again, you can interchange your favorite skilled player with Kessel. Are skilled players just supposed to accept their beat down? I don’t know. Imagine the outrage if Scott had lined up again Sid Crosby or Patrice Bergeron, both players have had concussion issues. Do we want a cement head like Scott pulverizing the franchise player? You have to expect a player like Clarkson to jump off the bench and come to their aid.