Carter Ashton suspended for two games

Two games for Carter Ashton for the above hit on Derek Smith, which isn’t a suspension that should surprise anybody. Whatever your affiliation, it’s clear that Ashton is guilty of a fantastically dangerous hit and deserved supplemental discipline. Since the Maple Leafs have a week between games after tomorrow night’s in Vancouver, Ashton won’t be eligible to play until next Saturday in Boston.

In the suspension video, Brendan Shanahan made two key points as to why the department of player safety chose to suspend Ashton. The first was that at no point during the play did Ashton see anything other than Smith’s back, yet he finished his check hard. The second was that Smith was a very dangerous distance from the boards.

While “finish your check” has long been a staple of hockey, this presumably isn’t what coaches have in mind. It was a very vicious collision, and Shanahan makes it sound like there were factors that kept the suspended games total from being higher, namely that Smith wasn’t hurt on the play, and that Ashton has no history:

While Ashton plays with a bit of an edge, I’ve never thought that his play was particularly dirty. He’s had three fights in his 25 career NHL games, but no roughing or boarding penalties to speak of. I think it’s perfectly fair to admit that Ashton made a dirty play in Calgary even though he isn’t a dirty player.

Ashton has been up and down so far this season, spending time with the Marlies, and also on the Leafs’ third-and-fourth lines. Other than Jay McClement, Ashton has probably been the team’s best checking winger, and his speed and forechecking ability will be missed in Vancouver tomorrow night. I presume Troy Bodie is going to take Ashton’s spot in the lineup and while Bodie is of a similar skillset, I think Ashton’s quicker to loose pucks and better at winning battles below the goal-line. The Leafs have generally spent more time in the offensive zone with Ashton on the ice than now (his possession numbers are very good through 10 games) and he’s played like a prototypical third line forward.

Fair suspension, I’d think, but Ashton is quite lucky Smith got up otherwise I can see it being much longer. If I were him, I wouldn’t make hits like this a habit.

UPDATE – It may be Nik Kulemin taking Ashton’s spot!

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  • beloch

    I would have suspended Ashton a few more games for his inability to fight at the NHL level. He is detriment to the safety of the team and at risk for concussion in fights. After his suspension, Carlyle needs to send him to the AHL to work and improve the fighting part of his game. And let the more skilled hockey players like Orr and Mclaren do the dirty work in the NHL.

    • beloch

      haha you’re kidding right. Ashton isn’t a goon, he is a power forward that can contribute in other ways on the ice besides fighting. he is a smooth skater that can hit (hopefully cleaner next time) work the boards, and play higher up the lineup than a fourth liner. he doesn’t look out of place when playing the game, and is definitely not a detriment to the team (like one can argue two goons on the fourth line may be). I get up for a player like Ashtons fights because I know they aren’t staged, they are emotionally driven. Orr and Mclaren are better fighters because they train simply to fight, ashton trains to play. plus Ashton is still recovering from a broken nose cut the kid a break

  • beloch

    Ashton has certainly made some “history” for next time. Here’s hoping the suspension and well-deserved drubbing by O’Brian motivates him to clean his game up!