A hit like that, don't even try to excuse it

Last night's Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Montreal Canadiens game wasn't televised in the Tampa Bay Market... Which was the truth for the majority of the Lightning's pre-season. There were other sports distractions locally anyway. So even if the game was on TV, it would have likely been missed. It's only pre-season, after all.

But there was an incident we heard about on the radio broadcast of the game - a hit by forward Ryan Malone, a fight... What was missing in the grand scheme was context. What happened?

It wasn't pretty

Chris Campoli was laid out by Malone with an arm to the head. You watch the video enough times, you may start o read Malone's post-hit actions (just before he gets jumped) as acknowledgment that he screwed up. That, or he was preparing to defend himself from any challengers.

What you cannot take from this video, is a justification for Malone to get only a slap on the wrist for the incident and nothing more. Lets be frank and honest here, we've commended Brendan Shanahan's work so far as VP of Player Safety because he was not being limp with fines and suspensions. If a questionable or illegal hit happened -- boom. You were punished. There was no attempt by he or the league to make excuses or show leniency with a "hockey play" label slapped on a bad hit.

(In sharp contrast, "good old" Colin Campbell gave in once again to the benefit-of-the-doubt when it came to Wayne Simmonds on-ice slur directed at Sean Avery. There was no action taken.)

Ryan Malone will be sitting to start the NHL season. How many games is anyone's guess until Shanahan hands down his decree. Chris Campoli was reminded that you're supposed to keep your head up. But a headshot is a headshot and there can be no tolerance on hits like this.

In a twist, however, this may clear up the Lightning's roster situation - or at least makes it easier to manage the team before Wednesday's cut-down to 23 players. The Lightning have 26 in camp, 25 if you do not include the injured Scott Jackson (who remains with the club for treatment purposes). A suspended Ryan Malone reduces the roster to 24 players for the start of the season. Who the odd-man out will be remains to be seen.