Since none of us have seen the video of the Brad MacMillan's alleged sucker punch on Dave Van Drunen, which cost him a 22-game suspension from the Central Hockey League, it's hard to judge whether the punishment was fair or not.
I wish minor leagues would just release the video of these incidents, so we can all see for ourselves.
Transparency is always good. What have they got to hide?
But I do not get the indignation from some on how punching a defenseless player off a faceoff could draw such a suspension.
There is a place for fighting in the sport. I've always been a big proponent of the players being able to police the ice themselves. But just because I'm in favor of fighting, it doesn't mean I don't think there's some sort of code to it.
And one of the major caveats is you don't attack a defenseless player. And if a player doesn't see your fist coming, or have time to react, he's defenseless.
These players must have sensed something was coming, yet they got attacked. Dirty plays. I'm not even saying a player has to be a willing combatant; just that he has to be in a position to defend himself.
Otherwise, the attacker is in the wrong.
I've never known Brad MacMillan to not abide by the codes of fighting, and I've never witnessed him go after a guy who was down or injured, but I'm able to understand that an incident should be judged on its own.
Maybe what he did was nothing like this. Either way, the CHL should release video so we know.
The CHL hasn't explained how it reached the number 22, and it really should. But I don't have a problem if Van Drunen's significant injuries were taken into account.
Imagine if the roles were reversed here.
Remember when Greg Labenski got only five games from the IHL for his elbow on a defenseless Konstantin Shafranov last season? That one may have been unintentional, yet Komets fans were screaming that Labenski sit out until Shafranov was able to come back.
We can argue about these things for days. Without video, it's sort of absurd. But if MacMillan mangled Van Drunen's face in one punch, and Van Drunen wasn't in a position to stop it, a severe punishment was probably in order.
I'm fine with an appeal. The more oversight the better. And I hope there is more to the story, that MacMillan was somehow incited into his actions, or that his actions have been misreported, but I would think it would have come out by now.
Regardless, these are the incidents that mar the place of fighting in hockey, and there is a place for it.