Despite the furor directed at Sean Avery for his so-called sucker punch of Ladislav Smid of the Edmonton Oilers yesterday afternoon, the NHL has decided to take no action against him, a decision that is the right one, and a bit surprising. If this truly was a sucker punch, you can be sure the league would have given Avery a suspension, or at least a fine. Being that nothing is being done, it appears the heads of discipline at the league office felt it was a clean fight.
Personally, as I summed up today, I did not feel it was a sucker punch, although I did think it was a bit cheap. Nevertheless, the league made the right call here, as Smid went looking for trouble and found it rather quickly, as he was down on the ice after one punch.
In fact, the only disciplinary action taken because of this affair was to fine Brandon Dubinsky, who was punching an Oiler (that appeared to be Colin Fraser) while standing on the bench. This is the right move as well, as player cannot engage in contact with an opponent if not on the ice. What the league did get wrong, though, was to not fine any member of the Oilers for this brawl. The Oilers were the team that initiated the entire thing, when Ryan Whitney and Theo Peckham skated over to Avery as he was being led off the ice. Had they not made an approach, perhaps this entire thing could have been avoided.