By Tom Dougherty (@todougherty)
The Carolina Hurricanes cannot be happy with Alex Edler.
Edler on Thursday injured Team Canada’s Eric Staal in the first period of Sweden’s quarterfinal matchup when he recklessly connected knee-to-knee with Staal. He was suspended the remainder of the World Championships, according to the IIHF.
But is that enough punishment for a rather careless play by Edler? The video clearly shows that Edler made no attempt to avoid Staal and skated directly into the right knee of the 28-year-old without even disguising it as an attempted hit.
The knee-on-knee appeared rather intentional despite Edler’s claim that he had “no intention to hurt him.” Those types of plays are unacceptable, and players have to be held accountable — no matter where they are playing.
Edler has been disciplined by the IIHF. His punishment bans him from the final two games of the tournament, which would mean a lot more if it happened in the Olympics. But is that enough of a punishment for Edler for potentially taking Carolina’s best player out of action for part of next season?
The severity of Staal’s injury hasn’t been determined yet, but TSN analyst Aaron Ward says Staal has arrived in Raleigh for an MRI on Saturday with the diagnosis coming from the team’s medical staff.
By the replay, the injury appears to be serious. Staal floundered around on the ice, holding his knee and screaming in pain. Players generally don’t do that unless the injury is bad. It could be possible that Staal tore his ACL, an injury that usually takes five-to-six months to recover from.
Regardless of the injury, if it’s serious, the Hurricanes might start next season without their captain while Vancouver has Edler patrolling the blue line without any repercussions.
That’s not right.
Injuries come with the territory when teams allow players to participate in international games. But players want to represent their countries, and it’s an important issue. As of today, the NHL does not have an agreement to participate in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
However, the league continues to inch closer to a deal, according to ESPN.com.
If participating in international games like the Olympics and World Championships is important to the players, then the NHL should be allowed for to discipline players for incidents like Edler’s kneeing on Staal.
The Hurricanes are still on the hook to pay Staal even though he may not be able to physically start the season with the team as a result of the dirty play from Edler. There’s no doubt that if Edler delivered that knee-to-knee to Staal during a NHL game, Brendan Shanahan would be handing him a suspension.
But because the incident happened in the World Championships, Edler might come away scot-free and Carolina pays a hefty price.
Can the NHL justify suspending Edler for an incident that occurred overseas? That’s a slippery slope. If you suspend Edler, then you have to suspend every NHL player for cheap plays that happen in international tournaments. That’s a headache the league doesn’t want.
One thing is for sure, next time the Canes play the Canucks, Edler will be a marked man. He instantly dislodges Brooks Orpik as Public Enemy No. 1 in Carolina.
The boo-birds will be out in Raleigh.
Contact Tom Dougherty at email@example.com.
About the Author: Tom Dougherty is a journalism student at Temple University, a web producer for CSNPhilly.com, and runs Flyers Focus (http://flyersfocus.net/). He loves coffee, hockey and Pearl Jam -- preferably at once.