Stompin' Chris Pronger: the NHL sort of wakes up

Robin Brownlee
March 15 2008 03:04PM

First the NHL decided repeat offender Chris Pronger shouldn't be suspended at all for stomping Ryan Kesler of the Vancouver Canucks with his skate last Wednesday. Today, after further review, NHL disciplinarian Colin Campbell issued an eight-game suspension that'll cost the Anaheim Ducks defenceman more than $600,000 in salary.

Not enough, considering Pronger has been suspended seven times before, including once for kicking an opponent—he received one game for taking his skate blade to Ville Nieminen of the Calgary Flames back on March 14, 2004.

Not nearly enough, considering Chris Simon got a 30-game suspension for stomping on the ankle of Jarkko Ruutu.

Double-standard? You think? The official NHL release is as follows:

"Anaheim Ducks defenseman Chris Pronger has been suspended for eight games, without pay, for acting carelessly and recklessly in an incident against the Vancouver Canucks in NHL Game #1062 on March 12. The incident occurred after Pronger became entangled with Canucks forward Ryan Kesler, who had fallen to the ice. 'In attempting to free himself, Pronger carelessly and recklessly brought his foot down,' said Colin Campbell, NHL Senior Executive Vice President and Director of Hockey Operations. There was no injury to Kesler, and no penalty was assessed. Under the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, Pronger is considered a repeat offender. He will forfeit $609,756.08 in salary. The money goes to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund. Pronger will be eligible to return Sunday, April 6, against the Phoenix Coyotes."

Just because the NHL went from doing nothing upon its first review to issuing a suspension of eight games after taking a second look at better video footage of the incident, the edict is little more than a slap on the wrist.

"In attempting to free himself..." Is that what it looked like to you?

And what about the 30 games Simon got? Like Pronger, Simon faced Campbell as a multiple offender. Like Pronger, he had seven previous suspensions when the Ruutu incident happened. Unlike Pronger, Simon didn't already have a kicking incident on his rap sheet. And, unlike Pronger, Simon isn’t a marquee name.

Is there anything more cowardly and unacceptable than kicking or stomping an opponent with a skate blade? Apparently there is, at least when the guilty party is a marquee guy. —Listen to Robin Brownlee every Thursday from 4 to 5pm on Total Sports with Bob Stauffer on Team 1260.

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A sports writer since 1983, including stints at The Edmonton Journal and The Sun 1989-2007, I happily co-host the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260 twice a week and write when so inclined. Have the best damn lawn on the internet. Most important, I am Sam's dad. Follow me on Twitter at Robin_Brownlee. Or don't.
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#1 DJ Spin Cycle
March 15 2008, 03:07PM
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It's nice to see the NHL kind of come around... It's also a shame that it's not a more severe suspension, and that it took blogger and media pressure to make it happen.

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#2 Bobby Robertson
March 15 2008, 05:23PM
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The NHL didn't really have a choice after the outrage from the fans and media. I guess it's something. But it's like being given a glass of milk when all you wanted was a cold beer....totally not the same thing.

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#3 1011011
March 16 2008, 11:50AM
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All sports leagues look to keep their marquee players in the game. Their prime directive is to make money, not keep the integrity of the game in tact.

Look at Ricky Williams in the NFL. That guy hangs with Cheech and Chong 10 months of the year and then still keeps being reinstated in the NFL. Its a joke

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#4 RobinB
March 16 2008, 12:06PM
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1011011: Good point. The difference is, Williams really isn't hurting anybody else by bonging with Chong. If he wants to piss away a career because he'd rather have a rocket in his face than be an athlete, it's a bit different.

Letting Pronger or any other marquee guy slide for an action that was part of a game, an event watched on TV, when the bar for stupidity like kicking has been set with a grunt like Simon, just doesn't wash. You're right, it's nothing new, but it's still sickening.

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#5 Amber McCormick
March 17 2008, 03:19PM
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Maybe Pronger found out that Kesler is also carrying his illegitimate child and decided to 'take care' of it himself. Either that or he'll ask to be traded again and blame his wife for not liking the city. I'm just sayin'.

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