Prior to this 2007-08 season, the NHL produced this video which outlined a lot of rule changes regarding areas such as hits to head.
This hit by former Penguins forward Colby Armstrong against former Hurricanes forward Trevor Letowski was highlighted as one that would be illegal:
So we ask you, what is so different about the Armstrong hit in comparison to this hit last night by Flyers forward Mike Richards on Panthers forward David Booth:
Perhaps we should ask that question to the NHL's disipline department which declined to give Richards any sort of discipline today.
It should be noted that NHL discipline czar Colin Campbell did not take part in the process of reviewing the hit because his son, forward Gregory Campbell, is a player with the Panthers.
We really can't understand why Richards escaped punishment here. Based on the standard the NHL outlined with the Armstrong video, Richards should've been punished. Like Armstrong, he hit a player after the puck was released, targeted the head and caused injury.
But the NHL has shown a track record in recent years of giving star players preferential treatement. Alex Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin and others have gotten away with questionable hits that lesser players would've surely seen some sort of discipline on. How can one not wonder if the NHL gave Richards a break because he's a star?
For those who would argue "it's part of the game," that's fine, but why would the NHL specifically outline a hit like that as being illegal? And stick fights and bench clearing brawls used to be "part of the game." They aren't any longer for a good reason.
If nothing else, perhaps this incident will quiet the "they're out to get us" feelings among paranoid Flyers fans.