The hockey world is abuzz today over an incident that occurred during last night’s game between the New York Rangers and Ottawa Senators. In the first period, heavyweights Derek Boogaard of the New York Rangers and Matt Carkner of the Ottawa Senators engaged in a fight that ended with a broken nose for Boogaard.
As the victorious Carkner was escorted off the ice, he appeared to make a flicking motion towards the Rangers’ bench. Members of the Rangers say that Carkner was flicking blood, either spilled from Boogaard’s nose or from his own hand, at them. Here’s the video:
This is a unique situation for the NHL because while grotesque, and potentially unhealthy, it doesn’t necessarily violate any rules. The NHL typically suspends and fines players for illegal hits, intent to injure, unsportsmanlike conduct towards officials, etc., but rarely for gestures (unless they’re of the one finger variety).
Then again, earlier this season the league suspended James Wisniewski of the New York Islanders for two games for making an obscene gesture towards Sean Avery of the Rangers.
The problem here is that it’s nearly impossible to prove that Carkner was indeed flicking blood. He certainly appeared to make a flicking motion, but there’s no way of proving he actually directed blood towards the Rangers. This is a pretty clear instance of he-said, she-said, because there’s not likely to be video that can discern blood droplets flying through the air. Unless there’s clear evidence, it wouldn’t be right to punish Carkner.
But if the Rangers are upset enough about it, they should take it upon themselves to let Carkner know the next time these two teams meet.
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