Between Eric Gryba getting two games for a borderline hit that resulted in injury, and nobody from this Sens-Habs mess being punished, NHL playoff discipline seems even more "spin the wheel" than usual. But shoving an official would seem pretty clear-cut, no?
The Nassau Coliseum was electric bordering on anarchic last night (the PA announcer had to repeatedly warn fans to stop throwing things on the ice), as Long Island evened up their series with Pittsburgh in a wild 6-4 game. But at times it looked less like the return of the Islanders to relevance, and more like the shenanigans of the LNAH.
Brenden Morrow slammed Casey Cizikas's head into the ice a few times. There was a full-on post-horn scrum, including Evgeni Malkin, of all people, trading punches with Travis Hamonic.
So Letang's shove of linesman Lonnie Cameron nearly got lost in the fuss—no penalty was called, anyway.
Even on the replay it's hard to tell what Letang was thinking. It looked like he had time for the stripes to register, so it's not as if he thought he was being jumped by an Islander. Maybe he was looking for someone, anyone to hit, and was ticked/surprised by Cameron skating into him from behind?
Regardless, the rulebook couldn't be clearer:
40.1 Game Misconduct - Any player who deliberately applies physical force in any manner against an official (Yes.), in any manner attempts to injure an official (No.), physically demeans (Maybe?), or deliberately applies physical force to an official solely for the purpose of getting free of such an official during or immediately following an altercation (Big Yes.) shall receive a game misconduct penalty. In addition, the following (40.2, 40.3, 40.4) disciplinary penalties shall apply.
The follow-up clauses dictate, for physical contact with an official without the intent to injure, a minimum suspension of 10 games. Letang won't get 10 games, nor should he. He was lashing out in frustration, not targeting the linesman. But maybe a game? Who the hell knows, and that's the real story: split-second head shots are one thing, but NHL discipline is so screwy, we can't even predict the repercussions for actions covered by totally unambiguous wording.