It’s come down from the Morality Chair, Colin Campbell, that Ben Eager will be gone for four games. You know what? After the way he’s been playing recently (not just last night), and his ignorance in last night’s game, I’m ok with that. It really won’t be noticeable one way or the other. What was noticeable is that a member of the Thrashers decided to make an already bad game worse by pre-meditatingly doing something stupid that cost his team four goals in five minutes of gameplay. It’s not Eager’s fault that the Thrashers lost last night, but I get infuriated when someone on one of my favorite teams does something ignorant that puts that team in the spotlight in a very negative way. I don’t want my players getting suspended for things that they should know better for. I called Colby Armstrong out on this last season when he nailed Mathieu Perrault in the head with an elbow on purpose. I was especially pissed off about that because Atlanta was fighting to get into the playoffs; I guess at least Eager took himself out of the game against Toronto, which is so not the same thing.
Eager’s four game suspension is warranted. In a quote given to Chris Vivlamore of the AJC, Eager tries to compare himself to Milan Lucic:
“I’m surprised in one way, but there is no parity in these suspensions that are handed out,” Eager said Saturday. “The last two incidents I’ve seen, they knocked a guy out with no glove on and get no fine. The Lucic incident, he suckers a guy who’s not even looking, with no glove on, and he gets fined $2,500. Then Jody Shelley does the same thing to a guy who is watching and he gets two games. I get four [games] somehow for hitting a guy with my glove on, that is looking right in my face. We are looking eye to eye. I guess [NHL disciplinarian Colin Campbell] wanted a quiet weekend. He didn’t want the Toronto media calling him all weekend. He did what he had to do.
“It is what it is. It’s four games. I will deal with it and move on.”
Ok, Ben, no. Lucic’s hit on Meyer wasn’t premeditated – it was a reaction to something Meyer had just done to him. The suckerpunch to Armstrong’s face was clearly pre-meditated retribution for Armstrong being obnoxious all night – probably most specifically the hits on Little and Peverley. If you watch the clip of Lucic, and then watch the clip of Eager, it’s obvious that Eager took a run at Army and tried to cream him into the boards about thirty seconds before he hit him.
Also, and something that Eager leaves out (but mentions later in the interview with CViv), is that he’s already been suspended by the league once for three games in 2009 for a hit on Edmonton’s Liam Reddox. Earlier in 2008, he was suspended for three games for swinging his stick at Sean Avery as Avery skated by. Eager was seated on the bench at the time. Prior suspensions figure into league punishment according to the rules, and if Eager wants to dispute that, well fine. But it still does.
Ben Eager lacks judgement, he’s not an enforcer, and he’s not even a legit pest. At least Avery, Matt Cooke, and Steve Downie can score and be effective hockey players. Again, I’m not blaming Eager for the loss last night, but what he did is embarrassing to the Thrashers organization, and I don’t appreciate that.