The video above is the best angle I was able to find when it comes to Tom Kostopoulos’s hit on Detroit’s Brad Stuart from last night. The Flames ended up falling 5-4 in a shootout to the Red Wings and this happened midway through the third period. Kostopoulos was handed a two minute roughing penalty, but in looking at it again, you can understand why many are saying the league should take a closer look.
Stuart is watching a bouncing puck near his own net and is in a vulnerable position when Kostopoulos comes flying in and clips him with a high hit to the head. To me, there was intent to make contact with the head of an unsuspecting player. As JF correctly points out below, it doesn’t actually fall into the "blindside" category Rule 48 was set out to crack down on, however.
The talk of Stuart needing to keep his head up is ludicrous in my eyes. Stuart was watching the puck because it was right beside the crease. This wasn’t a case of a player admiring his pass and getting clipped. He shouldn’t have to worry if a guy is going to come in and hammer him with a late hit.
My personal take is the Kostopoulos hit should be looked at, but it’s so stupid to guess or speculate whether there will be a suspension or not. It’s too inconsistent a scale in this league to even guess. Stuart is out 6-8 weeks with a broken jaw.
EDIT – The league suspended Kostopoulos six games for the hit, which was a little higher than I thought; I was thinking three would be the range. Colin Cambpell admitted the injury came into it, and I think there’s probably something to the "it’s a Red Wings thing" too.
That all being said, I thought it was something that needed to be looked at. But becuase the NHL has such grey area with this stuff, there’s nothing that says a suspension was absolutely warranted, or absolutely not warranted. The subjective nature of NHL disipline was once again on display here. So, while I agree with a suspension myself, the arbitrary nature of getting to six games remains one of the most annoying things with this league.