It's not always a knockdown drag out affair with Huggy Bear Brashear
Thanks to Colin Campbell's amazing and unpredictable Wheel of Justice, this:
Is worth a six-game suspension.
OK so it's not just that hit, it's the pre-game nonsense he instigated with the Rangers Colton Orr and... well, insert whatever other reasons you might want to toss in for having the suspension be six games. Dirk over at On The Forecheck has the hands-down winner on his Twitter page to this point:
It sucks to be Donald Brashear. He got 1 game for the pre-game shove, 1 for the head shot, and 4 because it's Ulysses S. Grant's birthday.
Truth is it's one game for the pre-game shenanigans and five for the hit.
Was Brashear wrong here? Absolutely. It's a reckless hit. It's a hit coming full force on Blair Betts while he's unsuspecting and that's not necessary in the NHL.
I find myself watching this over and over again and trying to figure out what the motivation is here for Brashear and if Betts is in the wrong at all (ie: head down, admiring his pass) and while Betts is caught flat-footed and somewhat admiring, it stands out to me as a prime example of everything in hockey happening a lot faster than in other sports.
Check out the YouTube video above once again. Betts gets the puck at the :12 second mark, has the puck away and down the ice at :13 and Brashear clobbers him at :14. I know there's big heaps of fractions of seconds involved here but that's a span of two seconds where Betts goes from safe to dismantled with a highly questionably timed hit.
Incredible. This does boil down to Brashear crossing the line between hitting a guy who has a basic idea the hit is coming and a guy that has no clue it's coming which gets into all sorts of grey area stuff as far as the NHL is concerned. After all, guys who get caught skating with their heads down get creamed and concussed the same as guys that are caught watching their passes as if they're Monet paintings.
Does this put Betts in a different category at all? Brashear was on the ice the whole time and, let's face it, he's not out there to score goals or play rock-solid defense. Betts was looking to dump the puck in deep to get the Rangers a line change and Brashear was looking to, for lack of a better phrase, light a fire under his team - a team that's been criticized all playoffs long for being physically soft.
Sending a message in a different sort of way? Probably, but now Huggy Bear is going to have to pay the piper for six games.
The Capitals aren't really going to lose too much not having a guy who has averaged about 3:25 of ice time in the four games he's played in this series. Brashear is so vital to the Capitals that he didn't suit up for the first two games of the series, the same two that Jose Theodore yacked away at home.
Betts, meanwhile, is likely out for Game 7 and the Rangers will miss him dearly. He's played an average of 10:44 per game before having his day shortened in Game 6 and logged over 13 minutes of ice time in Game 4 which the Rangers won 2-1 and held Washington's power play to an 0-6 performance, much thanks to Betts' work.