On New Year’s Eve in the Worcester Sharks game against the Manchester Monarchs WorSharks forward Curt Gogol received a blind side check to the head by Monarchs rookie forward Andy Andreoff, in which Andreoff intentionally charged at Gogol and targeted Gogol’s head with his elbow and delivered a blow in the open ice far away from the puck. It took medical personnel a significant amount of time to stabilize Gogol’s head and safely remove him from the playing surface on a stretcher, but in the end luckily the most major injury it seems Gogol sustained was a cut lip and a severely lacerated tongue. It has not been announced if Gogol suffered a concussion on the play.
Andreoff received a match penalty for checking the head, which comes with an automatic suspension until, and I quote directly from the AHL rulebook here, “the President has ruled on the issue”. This afternoon the American Hockey League ruled on the issue, and Andreoff was suspended for three games.
So for targeting an unsuspecting player’s head and intending to injure that player, the AHL has seen fit to suspend the aggressor just a weekend’s worth of games. Good thing Andreoff didn’t bump into the referee after being given a game misconduct, he may have gotten himself in real trouble for doing that.
Seeing how AHL President David Andrews is, according to the rules, the person responsible for handing down suspensions in this case, perhaps Mr. Andrews can explain his decision to suspend Andreoff for just three games. At the “State of the AHL” during last season All-Star Classic, when asked about suspensions in relation to head hits, according to Donald Rieber Jr on examiner.com Andrews replied “We’re really looking at predatory type hits, whether it’s a head-check or boarding or charging, where you see intent to injure on the part of the player as opposed to a hockey play.”
In an interview with Admiralsrundtable.com just under a year ago Andrews is quoted as saying “…we’ve always taken a pretty strict stand on head shots in the American Hockey League”. And a little later Andrews is quoted as saying “Tougher disciplinary standard is important for player safety…”.
Going all the way back to 2004 when Garrett Stafford and Alexander Perezhogin decided to swing sticks at each other’s heads Andrews was very clear in an interview with Bruce Berlet on currant.com, “We don’t want to take the emotion out of what can be a physical game, but there’s a line to be drawn, and we want the coaches to help establish that line so we have the best product possible,” Andrews said. “We’ve got to get away from the sort of head-hunting that is being seen as a legitimate hockey play. It isn’t, and I believe coaches can help define and respect the game.”.
More from that same interview: “We are going to severely discipline players who are guilty of that (blows to the head with momentum and intentional cheap shots with an elbow), and our coaches are being asked to take the responsibility and make their players accountable for respecting the game and playing it within a code of conduct that we used to have,” Andrews said. “We’re going to really work hard at that because the game has been hurt by the kind of incidents we’ve had in our league and the NHL. We needed to address it, and we are addressing it.”
I’m sorry Mr Andrews, but three games for Andreoff’s actions isn’t “addressing it”. You had the opportunity to send a message that hits like that would not be tolerated in the AHL. But instead you failed not only your league but hockey fans everywhere. That hit has no place in this sport, and it will take a lot more than empty words to make sure it doesn’t happen again.