Andy Sutton’s eight-game suspension for the high charge he took at Alexei Ponikarovsky of the Carolina Hurricanes Wednesday is neither too harsh nor too lenient. While the Edmonton Oilers and fans might disagree, my sense is NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan got it right today.

First, here’s the item from

NEW YORK — Edmonton Oilers defenseman Andy Sutton has been suspended, without pay, for eight games for charging Carolina Hurricanes forward Alexei Ponikarovsky during NHL Game #404 in Edmonton on Wednesday, Dec. 7, the National Hockey League’s Department of Player Safety announced today.

Having previously been suspended within the past 18 months, Sutton is classified as a repeat offender under the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. He therefore will forfeit salary based on the number of games (82) rather than the number of days (185) in the regular season. Sutton will forfeit $207,317.04. The money goes to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.

The incident occurred at 10:27 of the third period. Sutton was assessed a minor penalty for boarding.

Sutton was suspended for five games on Nov. 1 for an illegal hit to the head of Colorado forward Gabriel Landeskog.

Sutton has missed the Dec. 9 game vs. Colorado and will miss games tonight at Calgary, Dec. 15 at Phoenix, Dec. 17 at San Jose, Dec. 19 vs. Detroit, Dec. 22 vs. Minnesota, Dec. 26 at Vancouver and Dec. 29 at Minnesota. He will be eligible to return Dec. 31 at the New York Islanders.

Here’s a line to Shanahan’s video:


Shanahan’s video lays out his reasoning for handing out the eight-game suspension in straightforward terms. I’m not sure, considering the six-foot-six Sutton is a repeat offender — leaving aside he displayed a vertical leap of about a foot in squashing Ponikarovsky — that there’s a lot of room to dispute his finding.

While I was certainly aware Sutton was a repeat offender, notably for his hit on Gabriel Landeskog of Colorado this season and Pascal Dupuis of Pittsburgh previously, I did not know Sutton had been fined or suspended on seven occasions by the NHL. That’s a lengthy rap sheet, even taking into account Sutton’s years of service in the league.

"I think Brendan explained it well in his video, what he thought," Edmonton GM Steve Tambellini said. "He pointed out the fact Andy was a repeat offender, which puts him in a more difficult situation. I think if Andy could take the hit back, he would, but it happened and we’ll deal with it."

The loss of Sutton will mean a longer look at Colten Teubert, who has been taking a regular rotation in Tom Renney’s third defensive pairing for the last two games with Sutton already sitting. While Teubert comes up way short in terms of experience, he is very much the same type blueliner as Sutton, big and physical with a nasty edge, so the job description fits.

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

  • Wanyes bastard child

    Do you think Sutton will retire at the end of the year maybe?

    I didn’t watch the video explaining the hit yet but it seems to me with Sutton’s size and style of play that he may no longer be able to play his game…

    • He’s going to have to eliminate this kind of hit from his game, that’s for sure. No reason, none, for a guy as big as Sutton to leave his feet to deliver a hit.

      As far as the rest of Andy’s career, any team that is interested in him, including the Oilers, is going to have to look at his record of suspensions. Five and eight games already this season. What is the next one, assuming there is one, going to be worth? Double-digits? That’s a big chunk of any season.

    • Yes, but Renney has to weigh that with showing confidence in Dubnyk. It’s not as black and white as you say, even with the BOA hype. He is trying to develop players and build a team. That’ll mean more a year or two from now than who wins tonight. On that front, Oilers win 4-2.

      • neojanus

        I don’t think Dubnyk is the guy for this team. I find him wildly inconsistent, particularly in regards to his leg work in the crease.

        It has been shown that inconsistent goaltenders can still win cups (Niemi), but there has to be a certain team in front of the net to cancel out some questionable play… the Oilers don’t really have that defensive team yet. They are still a team where a flimsy goal can destroy a whole period or a game. They either need to plug the defense or look for a better starter once Khabi is done… or a liability. I’d say that a better starter will be an easier target to acquire given the competitive nature of getting a goalie job these days.

        In regards to Sutton, abnormally undisciplined play. He absolutely has to be smarter or his career is toast. No way the Oilers take a chance on him again unless he manages to score 15 goals when he returns. It wasn’t the most violent hit, but he has no reason to leave his feet ever… not ever.

  • Fuc@ing gross…Petry WTF game are you playing? It sure as hell isn’t hockey…Hemsky, If you are so uninterested in this team then beat it, we don’t need you. Come on Tambi, you said playoffs were the goal…do something about it before its to late…Getting sick of this sh!t as are all fans.

    • I don’t recall Petry playing a more mistake-filled game than this.

      As for Hemsky, my guess is Renney is almost as unimpressed with him as you are.

      The whole team, kids included, didn’t have their legs tonight. Not enough rubber at Kiprusoff. Don’t recall a second chance on the attack all night long.

  • a lg dubl dubl

    Dubnyk was as good as can be considering the 2 turnovers right in front.

    Give DD more time he’s only 25(?) Hating on Dubnyk is like hating on Gagner because he’s been in the league for 5 yrs yet he’s only 22.

  • neojanus

    Wasn’t impressed (as usual) with Hemsky. This far….haven’t been impressed with Paajarvi at all !! Nor Peckham for that matter. I don’t think he belongs here anymore since he lost that scrap to Nathan Horton last year. Weren’t Hemsky & Paajarvi supposed to add at least another 6 to 8 goals to this team by now ? That would have got us another 3 more wins….at least. And we wouldn’t be sitting where we are in the standings and things wouldn’t look so bad. This team has a myriad of problems, excluding the kids. Not to mention irresponsibility by some veteran players at the wrong times (ie: Sutton). The goaltending masked numerous problems at the start of the season (and little bit of good defensive work by Smid & Gilbert), but even they have come down. Unless some of these problems improve, I can’t see this team moving up and staying in a serious playoff hunt past mid-January ! Some hockey people were trying to tell us this team can be a playoff challenger and likely capable to maintain the 8th or 7th spot. We’ll see about that. They have numerous puzzles to solve in their division (see Minnesota, Calgary, and Vancouver).

      • The Oil were unlikley playoff contenders from the get go. The hot start was fun while it lasted but reality is setting in. This team is still in rebuilding mode and this year is more about evaluating young players than wins and loses.

      • Romulus' Apotheosis

        Solid Article…

        With something like this my first thought is always what does the abstract get you? That is, if an average sized player without a track record of suspension, without a reputation makes the same hit (leaves feet contacts head) and results in no injury… would there be a suspension? and then try to add games for each of those factors that fit Sutton…

        I suspect a large portion of the suspension stems from those other factors rather than the context specifics of the hit.

        Sutton is in that territory now where because of his track record the conversation is no longer “should be suspended” but “how long.” Not a good place to play from, esp. for a physical guy.

        BTW I’m curious what you guys think about Staples’ article:

        not sure how he comes up with this:

        I’d suggest that Sutton didn’t leave his feet to make the hit, he only left his feet in the awkward follow through of the hit. This will happen during a big hit and it doesn’t mean the hit is illegal.

        the tale of the tape seems pretty clear to me.

  • The thought of Teubert taking a regular shift scares me. The whole reason Petry had to take that interference call on Ignila was because Teubert was fighting the puck (by himself) at the side of the net, panicked and threw it around the boards to… Nobody! I’ve said it before, he’s a big body with limited hockey sense. Hope he proves me wrong but, he is a couple years away from being a regular.

  • Slapshot

    Oilers management and even Renney said the objective was to make the playoffs at the start of the year.We started out okay but we are starting to lose ground fast and as usuall Tambellini sits on his hands and does nothing.losing 15 of the last 16 games to Calgary does not help matters either.If we are a lottery team again this year, then Katz better over haul his management and coaching staff.The Oilers fan base deserves alot more than what we have been receiving the last few years and patience is starting to wear out.

  • Shaun Doe

    Evaluation is great and all but this team does need to start pushing towards the middle of the pack. Success, even limited, has a tendency to attract the free agents. Then again a player of Hemsky’s ilk could do the same if traded before his value has become completely eroded due to his own uninspired performances.

  • Shaun Doe

    @Robin Brownlee

    Maybe it’s my rose coloured glasses talking but I truly believe If we put in the proper effort (7 out of 10 games)combined with 1 trade (not a GM, but Hemmer for Franson kinda makes sense to me) that we really could challenge for a play off spot…Do you think that we really are that far away???

    Well I’m asking, have you ever seen Renny go postal on the team?? I really like him as a coach and the way he seems to always be teaching is great, but once in a while I’d love to see (or know behind closed doors)he’s throwing garbage cans and waffling somebody’s head off a locker to get his point across. Losses will happen but there is not reason we should ever witness a lack of effort or passion.

    Thanks Brownlee, excellent works as always!!!

  • As usual there was lots of happy talk at the start of the season from the GM and Renney. There was lots of gab about accountibility but all I see after 30 games is culpibility. When does ownership turn up the heat on the GM and coaching?
    The GM has sat on his hands from the day he arrived. The players he signed this year have been duds for the most-part. Is this the GM’s 5th year coming up? I would think the upper echelion is the place to start.

    Hemsky is a pouting slug. Fllluuussssh!

  • Shaun Doe

    Could someone (I’m sure there will be many) explain the Mr. Dithers nickname for ST? Looking at last night’s roster only 9 players (Horcoff, Hemsky, Dubnyk, Gilbert,Petry, Gagner, Smid, Pekham, Eberle) were in the Oilers organization or drafted before ST took the GM job. 11 players have been aquired since. Of these 11, 6 ( Smyth, Petrel, Potter, Eager, Belnager, Hordichuk) were aquired since last year. Barker and Sutton also have been quire since last year. Mr. Dither’s, I don’t think so.

  • Shaun Doe

    Bench 83. Let him sit, so tired of him , he should be embarassed.

    Then trade the puke. I am soo done with him.

    Wake up MGMT he is hurting your team !!!!!!!!

    • I’m as frustrating as the next guy with Hemskys play but unfortunately benching him will only make matters worse, we need this guy to play and play well if we want to get anything of value for him.

  • OilFan

    Renney must want another lottery pick. Still playing Belanger on the power play,PRV in the presser instead of the AHL, changes the lines up instead of going with what worked, this team gets too many men calls all the time, not motivated and lead by a Career loser.

    Oh yeah Gagner looked good vs Colorado on that top line ut seemed like he couldn’t keep up last night ( still slow). During Hall’s interview did it come across as that the Oilers were making him wait out the injury and he was talking like he was ready to play ?

      • Fans need to get a grip and not let the frustration they feel over losing cloud their perception of everything.

        The Oilers rush players back from injury. The Oilers hold players back when they’re ready to come back from injury. Gagner is coming on. Gagner stinks. Renney is a genius. Renney is a simpleton. The PP looks great. Why is Belanger on the PP? Etc etc, etc.

        Same group of coaches and players in the first 14 games of the season as now, save for injuries, yet perception of the same people as individuals and as a collective swings wildly one way or another after a couple of wins or losses in a row. It’s bi-polar around here.

  • Grumpy OM

    Tough for a guy like Sutton to hit anybody with out coming close to a Shanny look. I feel bad for him, I don’t think he is a dirty play , just plays hard and in the new NHL it’s going to be tough for him and guys like him to stay out of jail. As for the game in Calgary, I don’t understand why MPS was out and Hortichuck in, Darcy played less than three minutes. did nothing to help the Oiler game. I thought MPS played well with Landers and Pertrell against Colorado. Not second guessing Renny but I think the Oiler should give this kid a change to work himself out of this funk. Move Hemskey down the chart and let MPS play on the 2nd line for a few games

  • The reason the Oilers won’t make the playoffs: We cant beat anyone in our division. It’s pathetic. At this rate we’d need to win basically like 40 games outside our division just to have a shot.

    Oh and Andy Sutton can hit people clean just fine. From time to time he just has brainfarts.

  • Shaun Doe

    My big question about Hordichuk being in the line-up last night was why wasn’t he used? Iginla was running around in the first period imposing his will. Crush him a few times in a shift to lay the law. I understand that Iggy is of a fully different calibre of player than Hordichuk, but you could just move Darcy up a line with some more resonsible players for a shift so that he can go to work without worrying too badly about glaring turnovers. In all honesy though, the flames looked like a much bigger and hungrier team last night. The Oil looked scattered and gassed.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    If we’re to learn anything from a non playoff team dominating the Oilers like this, it must surely be the lack of the veteran leadership on this hockey club. 10,6,20,89,83 all MIA 3 out of every 4 games it seems. If it’s not the kids grabbing the 2 points when it’s up for grabs the Oilers are most likely in for another difficult evening.

    The Oilers aren’t going anywhere till 4,14 and 93 take them there. Liquidate these useless veterans in an effort to get these kids help. Sell the farm, rid themselves of these often injured/invisble most nights overpaid posers, cept for 94 of course, he’s a God in these parts. The toilet bowl that took place in Calgary last evening must certainly reveal this.

      • Quicksilver ballet

        Isn’t it odd that more often than not the kids are leading the way? The kids making the plays when the game is on the line. What are these kids supposed to learn/take from the veteran core on this team…how not to do it? These first and second year kids aren’t learning anything from most of the veteran group on this club. 4,14 and 93 are best trust their own instincts on how this game should be played….screw the guys that have never achieved anything significant on their own.

        • I see what your saying but you have to take into consideration that the kids(4,14,93) aren’t playing the other teams bigs, 10,94,83 are.. I don’t think the kids would be getting it done like they are if they we’re trying to shut down the Sisters and the Kessels of the league.

    • Quicksilver ballet

      Yeah, it’s amazing what adding another first or second year NHL’er will do for this lineup. Maybe Hall can take some icetime away from the guys who don’t seem to have to earn it.

  • Hey yesterday I wrote that the Oilers were going to lose last night…………the loss was totally predictable.

    The oilers have played the Flames poorly this year due to the fact that they have always played them in back to back games on the second game. Stastictially in back to back games the team playing the back to back loses about 80 percent of the time.

    I agree with Renny dressing two tough guys both…….. Hordichuck and Eager create space for players when they are playing. How he uses them should be questioned. Having them lumped on the fourth line really serves no purpose. Having them play along side the top two line to set the tempo makes the most sense………even if it’s for one shift. It does send the message to the opposition players that we will not tolerate liberties directed at our skilled players. I’m sure that if practiced, both Eager and Hordichuck can play an effective role at supporting plays orchestrated by the skilled players.

    For all those people angry at Hemsky not playing well……….he has simply not adapted to the new NHL. He has no hockey sense and that has been aptly demonstrated by his dipsy doodle dangling ways. There is no space and time that he can create with the skating skills and the speed of the opposition players of today.

    We will not win until he is off the team plain and simple.

    • “Hey yesterday I wrote that the Oilers were going to lose last night…”

      And you had a 50 per cent chance of being right and a 50 per cent chance of being wrong, so why open with this like it’s some sort of credential for what you are about to say?

      Hemsky is not playing well because his shoulder is still bothering him and, likely, because he’s in a bit of a sulk that Renney is actually starting to lean on him a bit to earn his ice time 5 on 5 and on the power play ahead of some of the kids.

  • For all those people angry at Hemsky not playing well……….he has simply not adapted to the new NHL. He has no hockey sense and that has been aptly demonstrated by his dipsy doodle dangling ways.

    It’s getting more and more difficult to take the discussion seriously around here.

  • OilFan

    How much longer till Potter is back ? Whitney could be added to the list with the Hemsky talk. Both players coming of injuries, playing without effort and giving the other team the puck more then to teammates. Hemsky had a shoulder injury so I guess he can’t shoot as much and or hard. Why can’t Whitney make a outlet pass ? ~ Knee and or ankle must be connected to the brain ~ Any team with a decent line up wouldn’t miss Andy Sutton


  • OilFan


    “Same group of coaches and players in the first 14 games of the season as now, save for injuries, yet perception of the same people as individuals and as a collective swings wildly one way or another after a couple of wins or losses in a row. It’s bi-polar around here.”

    Renney’s had a system in the fist 14 games and then changed it along with the lines every second shift since.

  • justDOit

    Isn’t it ironic? The only hitter on the Oilers gets suspended – repeatedly.

    I hope Sutton can at least write these suspensions off of his income. I don’t know what I’d do if I had to surrender $260K to fines…