Mike Brown has a reputation as pretty much only a fighter — which makes sense given he had 19 bouts during the season, tied for eighth in the league — but the Ducks use him a lot on the penalty kill as well. After the game, Ryan Getzlaf told Hockey Night in Canada that part of the reason he played nearly 28 minutes was the fact he had to cover for some of Brown's shorthanded duties.
So losing him for a period of time due to a suspension would sting, at least a little.
Here's TSN's Bob McKenzie on the hit:
It's really up to the National Hockey League to decide what is it that they want to do. I think the NHL is going to look at it and say it's a five-minute major, it happened midway through the first period, Mike Brown is out of this game, there was no severe injury to Hudler other than the blood, he came back and he's playing, and the Ducks had to play with 11 forwards the rest of the game. There may not be a suspension in this case.
Sounds reasonable — and obviously the league can and will do whatever it darn well pleases. But then you look at the Donald Brashear hit from all of five days ago, one that received no penalty during the game, and it's very difficult to find many tangible differences.
If that's worthy of a five-game suspension, how can you not then suspend Brown for a high hit to an unsuspecting opponent? I look at the number of strides he takes prior to veering into Hudler, who is dumping the puck into the neutral zone, and wonder how he avoided an injury as bad as Blair Betts (broken orbital bone).
I've written plenty about the wheel of justice the league uses to determine these things, but the fact of the matter is that none of us really knows what punishment is appropriate here. Suspensions change like the wind — often based on who the offender is — and given there was no major injury resulting here, my guess is McKenzie's right.
But we're really all just left guessing what happens the next time one of these incidents happens. And so are the players and coaches.
"I didn't see him coming," Hudler said. "It happened really quick. I didn't have the puck for at least two seconds. It was kind of late, but there's nothing I can do right now. Obviously, it's a hit on the head. I don't want to be out of line, but I hope (the League) will get a look at it and do the right thing."
"It's the playoffs, I want to play," Brown said. "I want to help the team. I don't know if it's necessary to get that suspension. It was just a clean hit. I wasn't meaning to do any harm or anything. I was just playing physical. He got cut from his visor."
"They can talk all they want about a dirty hit. That's not a dirty hit in hockey," said Ducks coach Randy Carlyle. "You're allowed to take the body in this game."
"It was a dirty hit," Henrik Zetterberg said. "I think he should have respect for players. It was obviously to the head. That doesn't belong here."
Reverse the roles here, make the hit a punishing one by a marginal Red Wing on one of the Ducks' stars, and you better believe the quotes would sound the same coming out of different mouths. It all depends on whose ox is being gored.
Would it be that difficult to have some iron-clad rules on what is and isn't suspension worthy?