Saturday night, Hershey Bears defenseman Colby Williams made headlines with a massive, controversial hit that resulted in an ejection. It was unclear whether Williams would face supplemental discipline from the AHL, but now we have our answer.
The AHL announced Tuesday that Williams has been suspended for three games for his check to the head, which left Phantoms forward Danick Martel with a broken jaw. This suspension means that Williams will not play in Saturday’s Outdoor Classic at Hersheypark Stadium.
Williams, in his second season with the Bears, has scored three goals and tallied 10 assists in 39 games.
Williams’ hit, and the punishment that has ensued, has been controversial. Most people agree that it should have been a penalty, but all additional consequences have been divisive.
First off, I want to acknowledge that in real time, this play would be seriously difficult to call correctly as a referee. From certain angles, the hit looks worse than it was. Also, Martel put himself in a vulnerable position attempting to go around Williams. It is understandable for the referees to err on the side of caution in this scenario.
When it comes to supplemental discipline, the league is correct to try to limit head contact in situations like this. Much has been said about concussions in hockey, but at some point, suspensions and fines must be handed out to begin mitigating significant contact above the head. Careers have been ended by these hits and that fact should be given the gravity it deserves.
However, in some of the career-ending incidents, including ones that were more obviously cheap or dirty, the punishment has been around the same as this situation.
In case you forgot what that hit looked like: Rosehill skated elbow first into Wey's head. Wey would retire at the end of the season due to a concussion. Three games. pic.twitter.com/iZ5dfGHWBQ
— Kyle Mace (@kyle_mace) January 16, 2018
Williams’ hit, although a little reckless, was a hockey play. If the timing and angle of the hit shifted just marginally, the play might have been seen as a great step-up. It is a far cry from Lehigh Valley Phantom forward Jay Rosehill’s elbow, which intentionally targeted Bears defenseman Patrick Wey’s head in 2014. Rosehill’s hit ended Wey’s career.
I agree that the AHL and hockey in general must push headshots out of the game and it has to start somewhere. But in this case, the punishment does not fit the crime.
Headline Image: Cara Bahniuk
Russian Machine Never Breaks is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
All original content on russianmachineneverbreaks.com is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)– unless otherwise stated or superseded by another license. You are free to share, copy, and remix this content so long as it is attributed, done for noncommercial purposes, and done so under a license similar to this one.