However, somewhat overshadowed was the “obscene gesture” which accounted for $1,000 of the $3,500 fine. The problem is that, well, there was likely nothing obscene about Lucic’s gesture.
As I remembered Lucic skating to the bench and giving a “come-and-get-it” offering to the entire Thrashers bench, I was curious to try and see what exactly Lucic did that was obscene. Fortunately, in the age of YouTube, that wasn’t difficult at all.
As you’ll see in the video below, Lucic was being escorted off the ice after decking Freddy Meyer with a well-deserved sucker punch (an oxymoron that is somehow apt in this situation). On his way past the Atlanta bench, Lucic stuck a finger out in a waving motion, as if to say, “I’ll fight all of you.”
If you really, really wanted to believe it was Lucic’s middle finger, you could probably talk yourself into it. But it’s not clearly a middle finger, and if it’s clearly anything, you’d have to say it’s an index finger, right?
Check out the video below, which is cued up to the moment in question.
Was that a middle finger? Was it obscene? Apparently, it was obscene enough for the NHL’s vice president of hockey operations Mike Murphy, and it was obscene enough to cost Lucic $1,000.
Murphy, of course, deserves credit for reading the situation appropriately and not suspending Lucic for responding to an unnecessary hit to his noggin. But obscene? Really?
For Lucic, it’s not the first time the NHL has not given him the benefit of the doubt. In the ’09 playoffs, Maxim Lapierre charged at Lucic, who threw his hands up to defend himself from the oncoming Canadien. Lucic’s mitt caught Lapierre’s face, but did his stick?
This blurry screenshot makes it look like more glove than stick caught Lapierre’s face.
It’s clearly unclear what happened, but that didn’t stop the NHL from ruling against Lucic.
“While it is unclear whether Lucic’s glove or stick makes contact with Lapierre, what is clear is that he delivered a reckless and forceful blow to the head of his opponent,” Colin Campbell said in explaining the reason for the suspension. That’s an awful lot of assuming to do when playoff games are at stake.
What’s even more interesting is that Campbell actually gave the benefit of the doubt to Matt Cooke in a situation that looked a bit more black-and-white.
“You can’t think, ‘Well, I think [Cooke] wanted to hurt Marc Savard,‘” Campbell explained on NESN after his decision to let Cooke skate free. “You have to find a reason, what he did wrong. I have to go to David Booth and say I suspended Cooke because I don’t like him, but I don’t mind [Mike] Richards even though he hurt you pretty bad?”
I don’t know what world Campbell lives in, but where I come from, that’s called jibber-jabber.
Basically, though, what we can take from this is that the NHL assumes things one day and chooses not to assume things other days. Sometimes, there will be fines and suspensions. Other days, there will be no disciplinary action taken at all.
The punishment is all up to the whims of the decision maker of the day. Well, unless you’re Milan Lucic. If that’s the case, you’re apparently not getting any benefit of any doubt. Sure, it’s only $1,000 for a guy who makes millions, but it’s lousy to know you’re getting fined or suspended for things you may or may not have done.
Talk about obscene.
Do you think Lucic’s punishment by the NHL was fair? Share your thoughts below.