After staying away from NHL controversy for some time, Todd Bertuzzi found himself back in the limelight for the wrong reasons.
During Monday night's Detroit Red Wings vs. Chicago Blackhawks game, Bertuzzi charged at Chicago's Ryan Johnson and wound up elbowing Johnson in the head. The play will stir up more controversy, though in my own opinion, I thought it looked more like Bertuzzi recklessly couldn't decide if he wanted to lead with his shoulder or try an ill-advised hip check and wound up just being more careless than vicious.
In any case, we've seen plenty of these types of hits for discussion this season. Here's a list of hits, sorted by date, complete with embedded video and punishment. Note that I've omitted hits from behind, crosschecks, and other infractions that don't go into the hit-to-the-head debate.
10/15/10 Nick Foligno on Pat Dwyer: 0 games, fine
3/17/11 Brad Marchand on R.J. Umberger: 2 games
Now, let's take a look at the Bertuzzi hit from last night:
That's a lot of videos to compare to, but what's the precedent now? On one end of the spectrum, you have a clear targeted attack by a repeat offender like Matt Cooke. On the other hand, you have several examples of plays that might be careless but aren't necessarily vicious (Joe Thornton). If you put all of this data together, combined player history, looked at the context of the hit, and added in the outcome, you won't get much consistency at all.
Now that we've come out of the GM meetings and everyone's all gung-ho about head shots, perhaps Colin Campbell will be harsher on Bertuzzi than he might have been a few months ago. (UPDATE: Bertuzzi won't be suspended.)
I suppose the real question is whether or not the latest Matt Cooke incident was a turning point or a data point spike to be forgotten later.