Former NHL ref Kerry Fraser got a lot of ridicule back when he was on the ice. But in reality, he was a 30 year official with a damn solid track record, and he's been a fantastic columnist over at TSN since he retired.
On Wednesday, he took up the subject of the Wayne Simmonds-Ryan McDonagh dust up from over the weekend. His verdict sides pretty strongly with Simmer -- not the Rangers or their whiny head coach, Alain Vigneault, who felt Simmonds should have been suspended for his "sucker punch of McDonagh.
As we know, Simmonds was given a match penalty for punching McDonagh in the face on the first period incident on Saturday afternoon. But Simmonds' punch was fueled by McDonagh cross-checking him in the head, and the only penalty McDonagh faced was a double minor for high-sticking and slashing.
Fraser thinks McDonagh deserved a lot more -- in fact, he says the Rangers' captain probably should have been given a match penalty as well. Here's Fraser, who included a bunch of screen shots like the one below in his convincing column:
McDonagh’s actions were nothing less than a deliberate cross-check to the head of his opponent who was approaching to deliver a legal body check. This is worthy of a match penalty. Note that coach Vigneault is following the pass through the middle of the ice and didn’t see the cross-check delivered by his player.
(Damn. Gonna need some ice for that burn, Alain?)
Fraser goes on to note that there was nothing "sucker" about Simmonds' punch, despite the Rangers' claims to the contrary. The former ref is simply using the English language as his defense:
The blow delivered by Simmonds could not be regarded as a powerful, forceful punch. It was more in line with what we have seen thousands of times in a roughing altercation. It also can’t be deemed a sucker punch as some have suggested, since both players were actively engaged in a physical confrontation. As such, it is difficult to suggest that McDonagh was unsuspecting of any further response or potential punch from his opponent.
So if it wasn't a sucker punch, why was Simmonds given a match penalty anyway? According to Fraser, it was simply because he had his glove on when he threw that punch, and his glove injured McDonagh.
Fraser points out that according to Rule 46.15 in the NHL rulebook, "any player wearing tape or any other material on his hands" who also injures a player on a play is subject to a match penalty. And as a former ref, he shares the part of this that's not in the rules: the league has directed its officials to apply this rule when a gloved punch injures a player.
So that's why Simmonds was given a match penalty. It wasn't because he sucker punched McDonagh (because he did not sucker punch him). And he did not deserve a suspension -- Fraser goes as far as to say that "any reasonably thinking hockey person" should recognize that Simmonds did not deserve a suspension here.
I guess Alain Vigneault and the New York Rangers are not reasonable hockey people.