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James Neal Suspended One Game, Arron Asham Gets Four

Apr 17, 2012, 10:54 PM EDT

The NHL has suspended Pittsburgh Penguins James Neal (one game) and Arron Asham (four games). Craig Adams is also serving a one-game suspension.

After a delay so long it became a twitter meme, the NHL’s Dean of Discipline, Brendan Shanahan, finally handed down his verdict on supplemental punishment for Pittsburgh Penguins Arron Asham and James Neal. For his crosscheck to the high chest/neck area of Brayden Schenn, followed by punching Schenn from behind as he fell to the ice, Asham will be suspended for four games. Neal received one game for two separate incidents on the same shift. In the first, he put a dirty hit on Sean Couturier, who did not have the puck. Then, he charged at Claude Giroux with a head of steam. Neal also appeared to go up high on Giroux, who tumbled awkwardly. 

Craig Adams’ suspension was announced on Monday, an automatic call given that it was a mandatory one-game ban for being assessed an instigator penalty in the last five minutes of a game. Dan Bylsma received a mandatory $10,000 fine. Adams attacked Scott Hartnell, from behind, while Hartnell was defending himself from another Penguin (Sidney Crosby) sneaking him. 
Below, Shanahan hands out the Neal and Asham suspensions, with videos explaining why. Also, a look at the league’s next suspendable hit, which came while we waited for Shanahan’s decree and saw a star player leave the ice on a stretcher. 

Here’s Shanahan explaining the Neal suspension:


And here’s the Asham video:
Among my issues with the NHL’s system is the weight it gives a player not getting hurt. If the intention is clearly to hurt a player by targeting the head, why should you be lucky to avoid a lengthier penalty just because the targeted player was lucky you were unsuccessful? Neal was on a mission that lasted a full shift and involved dangerous, high hits to players who missed time with concussions this season. I’m not saying that he targeted them for that reason, but it’s still a fact. His reason, in my outside opinion, is that they were dominating the series his team was losing. 
Asham’s crosscheck and subsequent punch were, as Shanny pointed out, a reaction to a big hit by Schenn that was penalized. 
Prior history does seem to be a fair element to consider.
Oddly—and sadly—enough, while fans and media were awaiting the decision Rob Russo had predicted would come around 9pm, a Raffi Torres hit on Marian Hossa sent the Blackhawks star off the ice on a stretcher. Take a look:

Absolutely scary… 
The playoffs have been fun so far, but also marked by a lot of dirty hits and frequent calls for suspension videos. In a season that was supposed to see more discipline and increased attention to headshots and intent-to-injure hits, little has changed for the better. 
What do you think of the Penguins suspensions?  
What about the hit on Hossa? What does Torres deserve for that?