Monday, April 28, 2014

Brendan Leipsic Suspended

With 302 points in 261 regular season games, it's obvious that Brendan Leipsic can play. He's also scored 73 points in 76 playoff games so he's a guy you can depend on when it counts. And with a total of 468 career penalty minutes on his WHL resumé, the 5'10, 177 lb forward has a proven track record of "getting involved".

Everyone has an opinion on Leipsic; those that dislike him are mostly opposing players. I can tell you from speaking with them that there are a number of non-players around the league who aren't fans either - executives, coaches, support staff, media. They say he's cocky and arrogant, a dirty player who cheap shots guys then "gets tough once a linesman has stepped in to save him".

Personally, and I've said this many, many times on The Pipeline Show, Brendan Leipsic can play on my team any day. He's tenacious, he's talented and he not only "knows the role" but he thrives doing it. That's not always easy to find. 

Sure he's undersized and who knows if he'll play in the NHL but there is ability and determination there. I've always said he reminds me of Boston's Brad Marchand and I still feel that way.

But what he did late on Friday in a 7-3 game was not something anyone likes to see. A hot topic at Saturday night's Oil Kings / Tigers game was the spearing major given to the Portland forward. The video and my thoughts on the suspension after the jump.

The incident came in the dying minutes of the final game against the Kelowna Rockets on Friday night. The talented agitator from Winnipeg was doing what he does best, antagonizing the opposition.  

In this particular instance, he and Rockets pugilist Tyrell Goulbourne were pushing and each other as the play went back up ice the opposite direction. Leipsic then proceeds to jab the blade of his stick into Goulbourne's belly which incites the Flyers prospect and he begins hammering on the Winterhawk.

The Kelowna broadcasters heard on the video, Regan Bartel and Gord McGarva, are both veteran guys in the league and have the reputation for calling it as it is without being "homers". Their feeling initially was that Goulbourne was going to get four minutes to Leipsic's two so clearly there was something prior from the Rocket player that wasn't seen in the video.

The general consensus on Saturday at Rexall Place among the NHL scouts and collected media was that Leipsic would receive some sort of suspension. It was a spear, normally an infraction that has the label "attempt to injure" attached to it. There was about 3 minutes left in the game and all majors at that point get looked at by the league. Plus Leipsic has a history of suspensions; just this season he'd sat a total of 10 games for two different suspensions. 

The first time was back in September in an early season game against Tri-City for which he earned 3-games. The latter was a 7-game ban for this dangerous open ice hit on Seattle's Keegan Kolesar on December 14th.

All things considered, a suspension for the spear seemed like an obvious conclusion with the only thing debatable being the number of games. Many I spoke with thought two games would be the ruling although I said it probably deserved two but that I would be surprised if it was more than 1 considering it's the WHL Championship series. 

One person I spoke with said he didn't think the league would give Leipsic any supplemental penalty because of the time of year but I disagreed. Henrik Samuelsson was handed a 1-gam ban back in the 2011-12 final against Portland so the precedent was there for it. 

Today the WHL announced that Leipsic will indeed miss Game 1 of the final which begins on Saturday. 

Is it enough? Too much? You tell me. 


Anonymous said...

The fact the Regan & Gord didn't mention and/or notice the spear in the multiple replays immediately following against their own guy Goulborne speak to the "severity" of the spear.

Anonymous said...

Actually, considering where it was, they may not have even seen it. It would have been against the boards nearest the broadcast booth and they would have been looking at Leipsic's back at the time.

Also, if I remember correctly, the main camera is between the home and away booths so they would be looking around the camera at that end.