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As a man that wears the "stripes" yourself, I am certain you endorse the following statement contained in the League's press release following Commissioner Bettman's ruling on the Daniel Carcillo appeal:
"The National Hockey League does not and will not, under any circumstances, tolerate or condone the abuse, physical or otherwise, of our on-ice officials. The strict and proper enforcement of Rule 40, therefore, plays a critical role in safeguarding the integrity of the game by maintaining a safe and respectful working environment for our officials."
From that release I point to the phrase, "The strict and proper enforcement of Rule 40" as a foundation in rendering a fair verdict in this matter. As such, I personally agree with the Commissioner's thoughtful and well laid out decision to revise the initial rule application and relative category that was determined by the game officials from 40.3 (Category ll, not less than ten games) to 40.4 (Category lll not less than three games). For the complete Commissioner's opinion, please click here.
I maintained a public position from the outset of this incident that a violation under the definition of rule 40.4 (Category lll) had been committed by Daniel Carcillo as he attempted to free himself from the grasp of Linesman Scott Driscoll in an emotionally charged moment. Through the testimony provided by all parties at the appeal hearing the following statement from the Commissioner's opinion is most pertinent to his final determination:
"Here, Messrs. Carcillo and Driscoll, as well as the NHLPA, agree that he Player's application of physical force was solely for the purpose of getting free of Linesman Driscoll. That conclusion is supported by my review of the video footage and by the fact that there was no history of bad blood that would suggest that the Player bore any personal animus against the Linesman that might motivate his actions. I thus conclude that the application of physical force was "solely for the purpose of getting free" of the Official."
The agreement by Driscoll in this statement, with regard to Carcillo's "purpose", is an important admission of fact in the appeal process and to derail any potential ill feelings from the officiating fraternity that they are not adequately being protected by the League. This, coupled with the fact that Commissioner Bettman recognized Carcillo's actions were not "accidental" and more serious than a "push or shove" to properly calibrate Carcillo's suspension to six games should satisfy all parties and maintain the strict and proper enforcement of rule 40. By revising this offence to Category lll the suspension could have ranged from three to nine games. With everything taken into account, I support the Commissioner's decision to reduce the initial 10-game suspension of Daniel Carcillo to a meaningful six games under the revised category.