It's not often that we take requests with the NHL Wheel of Discipline. Buffalo's Drew Stafford, however, has put us in a position to at least consider it. He left Chicago defenseman Duncan Keith wobbling during the second period of the Blackhawks' 4-1 win over the Sabres.
When you watch this hit at normal speed, you might not think much of it. However, the replay tells a bit of a different story. It's clear as day that Stafford leads with his elbow, and he got Keith right in the head.
Is it worthy of a suspension?
Before we discuss, take a look at the hit.
There's no question Chicago's Ben Eager was upset about the hit. He jumped Stafford after the hit and picked himself up six minutes in penalties. Eager was emphatic after the game that this was a dirty hit by Stafford.
"I thought it was a completely dirty hit," Eager said. "That team has been through it. They have seen their fair share of head shots, and that guy doesn't have many hits all year. He's a skilled guy, so I'm sure [the league] won't do anything to him. I'm sure if I was the one who hit him I probably would be sitting out for a while."
It's an interesting point. Would Eager, known as a tough guy, get nailed by the Wheel for a hit like this?
I'm fully aware that Drew Stafford is not Chris Pronger, and I couldn't be more thankful for that. I'm sure Drew is, too. However, don't we have to be at least a little bit fair? If Pronger would get five games for a hit like that, shouldn't Stafford - with no suspensions on his record - at least get a game for it?
The answer, of course, is "No". The Wheel of Discipline knows no precedents and understands no fairness.
That said, I do think Stafford should step up and spin the wheel. The last time I checked, we were trying to stop players from carelessly elbowing other players in the head, not trying to encourage it.