Let's get gameday started by invoking Mario Lemieux's classic 1992 slam: The NHL has once again shown it's a garage league. How in the world does Niklas Hjalmarsson only get a two-game suspension for his vicious blindside hit of Jason Pominville? How is that play even possibly similar to James Wisniewski's obscene gesture at Sean Avery? The league says it is, because Wisniewski also got two games Tuesday.
Here's what's cluttering my mind about discipline czar Colin Campbell's latest mess:
---Did anyone in the league office check the schedule? Hjalmarsson sits two games, so when does he get back? Saturday night in the United Center. Against the Sabres. So is the league giving Buffalo carte blanche to create mayhem in retaliation? Doubt it. Patrick Kaleta already threatened some after practice Tuesday. But if he does something, he's not getting two games. Book it. Stinks of the warning system in baseball: You hit my guy, you get a warning, I hit yours and I get ejected and suspended.
The Sabres and Hawks won't play for at least another year, perhaps longer. You make it a three-game ban and you basically cut way back on the mayhem potential Saturday.
---This was not a head-shot hit that was added to the rules this year. This was a reckless, blindside play we've seen too often over the years. Ryan Miller said Tuesday the league needs to change the culture where players don't respect each other. Two games doesn't change anything. Six or eight or 10 might help.
---Hold your emails from Chicago. It would be an equal joke if, say, Tyler Myers made the same play against Marian Hossa and got two games.
---I don't care that Hjalmarsson didn't mean it or doesn't have a rep. Obviously, the NHL does and that's how he got off with a wrist slap.
---Would the penalty have been more if the injury had been worse? We could have been looking at a Kevin Everett situation. What if Pominville is in a hospital paralyzed right now? So it's two games because it's "only" a concussion? Tell to that Pat LaFontaine. Tell that right now to Marc Savard. Maybe Pominville is back next week. Maybe he isn't. Hjalmarsson will be back Saturday night.
---And what if, say, Sidney Crosby had been wheeled off on a stretcher? Even if Hjalmarsson "didn't mean it," bet the house it wouldn't have been just two games. Disgraceful.
---The league will rail against this point but it bears watching how Campbell's work goes this year vis-a-vis Northeast Division teams. Remember, his son Gregory was traded over the summer from Florida to Boston. Let's see how Campbell deals with the Bruins on such an issue. The Sabres certainly got the short end of this stick. How would Montreal, Toronto and Ottawa have fared?