Carrick and Bertuzzi suspended after attack on Kapanen

The score is 5-1 in favour of the Toronto Marlies and the visiting Grand Rapids Griffins are a little frustrated and upset. Understandably so in the circumstances, as they had blown many good opportunities before the scoreline got out of hand.

How that manifested itself late in the game played on Friday, October 30, 2015, was totally unacceptable however.

With just 75 seconds left to play a stoppage in play saw many players take their partners and a little dancing took place.

Tyler Bertuzzi, Detroit’s 2013 second round pick, took it upon himself to let fly at Toronto Marlies winger, Kasperi Kapanen.
Both are essentially rookies in the AHL, but Kapanen is not built to fight and has just 135 penalty minutes in his entire career and I highly doubt any of those are for dropping the gloves.

Tyler Bertuzzi however, has a history of this sort of thing. In the Ontario Hockey League, Bertuzzi averaged 1.6 PIM per game and regularly engaged in fighting. His penalties during his junior career often included roughing, checks to the head, cross checking and instigating. Not an intended slur on the young man but just to give you some sort of idea of the player we are talking about. So when Bertuzzi went after Kapanen, it was with the knowledge that he knew exactly what he was doing in picking his victim.

As officials and other players held back Marlies skaters on the ice, whom I believe were Soshnikov, Carrick, Percy and Holl, the one free official, referee Ben Moser, stood and watched as Bertuzzi threw punches at Kapanen, who at no stage wanted to engage. The coup de grâce was to come as Bertuzzi then slew-footed Kapanen, slamming him to the ice in the progress in what was a heart-stopping moment for all concerned. Only then did referee Ben Moser decide to intervene, in what was a mind blowing piece of officiating At this stage Kasperi Kapanen is reported to be fine, but we wait to see if he’s fit enough to play Sunday afternoon with the Marlies in Albany.

As Bertuzzi was escorted from the ice after receiving a match penalty, so was Toronto forward Sam Carrick for what was being called at the time “abuse of an official.”
A match penalty will automatically see the AHL review the incidents of the game and the following is the official line from the league regarding suspensions.

Notice how the official is off to the right, not engaging but blowing his whistle shortly after Kapanen was slammed to the ice.
Notice how the official is off to the right, not engaging but blowing his whistle shortly after Kapanen was slammed to the ice.

*****SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (updated 5:00 pm ET) … The American Hockey League today announced the following suspensions:

Grand Rapids Griffins left wing Tyler Bertuzzi has been suspended for two (2) games as a consequence of a match penalty for slew-footing assessed in a game at Toronto on Oct. 30.

Bertuzzi will miss Grand Rapids’ games Friday (Nov. 6) vs. Rockford and Nov. 11 vs. Iowa.

Toronto Marlies centre Sam Carrick has been suspended for three (3) games as a consequence of his actions in the same game, vs. Grand Rapids on Oct. 30.

Carrick was suspended under the provisions of AHL Rule 40.4 after being assessed a game misconduct for physical abuse of an official (Category III). He will miss Toronto’s games Sunday (Nov. 1) at Albany, Wednesday (Nov. 4) at Hartford and Friday (Nov. 6) at Utica. *****
Full report can be found here:

A two game suspension for an attack on an unwilling and rookie combatant seems extremely lenient in the circumstances and it’s by pure luck that (hopefully) Kapanen is not seriously injured.
I can only imagine that as a first offender in the league, the AHL took that into consideration. I pray the Detroit organisation dishes out some form of discipline of it’s own and it’s good to see Detroit and Grand Rapids fans not condoning the actions of their player, calling it a disgrace amongst other things.

The sentence meted out to Sam Carrick however leaves me perplexed and incensed. Carrick is not an enforcer but he can look after himself and his team mates if necessary. On this occasion he was looking to breakaway from the official to support his team mate, who I would argue was in legitimate danger of being hurt by Bertuzzi. While Ben Moser stood around admiring the situation, I don’t blame Carrick for trying to get away from the linesman holding him.

Now I confess I have not seen the incident involving Carrick and the official so it’s impossible to judge exactly what happened between them and not for one second do I condone “attacking” an official.
How the American Hockey League judges “physical abuse of an official” after what you see in a lot of scrums after a whistle is an interesting debating point but that’s digressing. I highly doubt Carrick threw a punch otherwise the suspension would have been greater and rightly so.

In these circumstances however, to judge Carrick’s offence worse, by nature of the supplemental discipline handed out by the AHL, appears absurd and sends a poor message to the players in regards to the safety of their fellow professionals.

The American Hockey League needs to take a good hard look at itself, especially at yet again only three officials were handed this assignment in what is supposed to be the best development league for the NHL. An extra official might well have been the difference between a player being hurt or not, as the case may be and surely the safety of all on the ice is paramount.

These two teams have a history of not getting along of late, a line brawl as recently as April of this year, which makes the AHL’s decision to go with a three man crew even more ridiculous.


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