As the calendar flipped from October to November a short while ago, the NHL suspended Oiler defenseman Andy Sutton five games for a dirty head shot on Gabriel Landeskog. RiverCityAlberta quoted Sutton when he responded to the suspension:
“For 14 years, I’ve always played the game with respect and integrity and I will continue to do so when I return.”
That’s what I like about Andy Sutton – he’s a man of his word. Because on December 7, only a few weeks since returning from the Landeskog suspension, Mr. Sutton’s leaping head shot on Alexei Ponikarovsky has earned him yet another suspension, this one eight games.
Throughout his career, this hulking 6’6” giant of a man has made it his business to do his best to injure opponents. Of course, Mr. Sutton doesn’t see his decisions and actions as intending to injure. No, he calls it playing with respect and integrity.
As this video montage shows (starts at 53 second mark), Mr. Sutton sometimes shows respect through a wicked shot to the head with a Kevlar elbow pad. Sometimes he shows integrity by viciously crosschecking a vulnerable player into the boards. And sometimes he really drives home respect and integrity by driving a player’s head into the end board glass.
For the more blatant of his dirty tactics, the NHL has suspended Mr. Sutton eight times over his 12 journeyman seasons with the San Jose Sharks, Minnesota Wild, Atlanta Thrashers, New York Islanders, Ottawa Senators, and now in River City.
The question is: At what point – after just how many suspensions – does the NHL get serious and suspend him for, say, half the season? And at what point do general managers and coaches seriously say “We don’t need that in hockey” by not employing morons such as Mr. Sutton?
Because, clearly, the message now isn’t getting through to the rather dim Mr. Sutton.