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Zdeno Chara No Instigator Suspension

Boston Bruins Captain Zdeno Chara will not be suspended after receiving a minor penalty for instigating, a major for fighting and a game misconduct at the end of the game against the Buffalo Sabres.

The initial rule is as follows:

47.12 Instigator in Final Five Minutes of Regulation Time (or Anytime in Overtime) – A player or goalkeeper who is deemed to be the instigator of an altercation in the final five (5) minutes of regulation time or at any time in overtime shall be assessed an instigator minor penalty, a major penalty for fighting, and a game misconduct penalty (see 47.22).

The NHL rescinded the suspension on Saturday under Rule 47.22:

47.22 Fines and Suspensions – Instigator in Final Five Minutes of Regulation Time (or Anytime in Overtime) - A player or goalkeeper who is deemed to be the instigator of an altercation in the final five (5) minutes of regulation time or at anytime in overtime, shall automatically be suspended for one game. The Director of Hockey Operations will review every such incident and may rescind the suspension based on a number of criteria. The criteria for the review shall include, but not limited to, the score, previous incidents, etc. The length of suspension will double for each subsequent offense. This suspension shall be served in addition to any other automatic suspensions a player may incur for an accumulation of three or more instigator penalties.

Emotions are running high on both sides pertaining to the incident, Buffalo fans demanding a suspension while Boston fans in favor of the Director of Hockey Operations Colin Campbell’s decision.

After reviewing the play myself, I fell the decision to not suspend Chara is indeed the right call. However, upon my own feelings pertaining to the rule (Last year Stanley Cup Playoffs as Evgeni Malkin instigates a fight with Henrik Zetterberg), I feel that it should be more black and white. Any fight instigated within the last 5 minutes of the game should automatically be deemed a game misconduct for the following game. With such a black and white approach, this would disallow for the NHL’s biased suspension policy, one that allows for “known” players to dodge accountability for their actions.

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