The talking heads talk and everyone listens. But does anyone actually bother reading the rule book?

I read on Twitter and throughout the Internet that the NHL and its Commissioner Gary Bettman simply do not have the discretion to suspend Ray Emery for his willful assault on Braden Holtby. Here is the video.

Oh really?

I am no expert on the Rulebook and I sure as hell have not read the entire CBA. But I can read and analyze.

Let’s do so together, shall we? Take a close look at the underline / italicized portions.

Rule 21 – Match Penalties

21.1 Match Penalty - A match penalty involves the suspension of a player for the balance of the game and the offender shall be ordered to the dressing room immediately.

A match penalty shall be imposed on any player who deliberately attempts to injure or who deliberately injures an opponent in any manner.

27.6 Leaving Goal Crease – A minor penalty shall be imposed on a goalkeeper who leaves the immediate vicinity of his crease during an altercation. In addition, he shall be subject to a fine of two hundred dollars ($200) and this incident shall be reported to the Commissioner for such further disciplinary action as may be required. However, should the altercation occur in or near the goalkeeper’s crease, the Referee should direct the goalkeeper to a neutral location and not assess a penalty for leaving the immediate vicinity of the goal crease. Equally, if the goalkeeper is legitimately outside the immediate vicinity of the goal crease for the purpose of proceeding to the players’ bench to be substituted for an extra attacker, and he subsequently becomes involved in an altercation, the minor penalty for leaving the crease would not be assessed.

Rule 28 – Supplementary Discipline

28.1 Supplementary Discipline - In addition to the automatic fines and suspensions imposed under these rules, the Commissioner may, at his discretion, investigate any incident that occurs in connection with any Pre-season, Exhibition, League or Playoff game and may assess additional fines and/or suspensions for any offense committed during the course of a game or any aftermath thereof by a player, goalkeeper, Trainer, Manager, Coach or non-playing Club personnel or Club executive, whether or not such offense has been penalized by the Referee.

If an investigation is requested by a Club or by the League on its own initiative, it must be initiated within twenty-four (24) hours following the completion of the game in which the incident occurred.

46.2 Aggressor – The aggressor in an altercation shall be the player who continues to throw punches in an attempt to inflict punishment on his opponent who is in a defenseless position or who is an unwilling combatant.

A player must be deemed the aggressor when he has clearly won the fight but he continues throwing and landing punches in a further attempt to inflict punishment and/or injury on his opponent who is no longer in a position to defend himself.

A player who is deemed to be the aggressor of an altercation shall be assessed a major penalty for fighting and a game misconduct.

A player who is deemed to be the aggressor of an altercation will have this recorded as an aggressor of an altercation for statistical and suspension purposes.

A player who is deemed to be both the instigator and aggressor of an altercation shall be assessed an instigating minor penalty, a major penalty for fighting, a ten-minute misconduct (instigator) and a game misconduct penalty (aggressor).

From the CBA

18.1 Supplementary Discipline for On-Ice Conduct. “Supplementary Discipline for On-Ice Conduct” means any supplementary discipline imposed by the Commissioner or his designee for Player conduct either on the ice or in the Player or penalty bench areas vis-à-vis other participants in the game (i.e., other Players, coaches or on-ice officials) in violation of the League Playing Rules. Supplementary Discipline for On-Ice Conduct may take the form of a fine or a suspension. Notwithstanding anything stated in Article 17 (Grievances) of this Agreement, all incidents involving review by the League (i.e., the Commissioner or his designee) for Supplementary Discipline for On-Ice Conduct will be processed in accordance with this Article.

18.2 General. It is the parties’ intention to impose Supplementary Discipline for On-Ice Conduct in a swift, effective and consistent manner with respect to conduct proscribed by League Playing Rules, including the use of excessive and unnecessary force and reckless acts resulting in injury. In doing so, however, the parties do not intend to alter the basic fabric of our game. In deciding on Supplementary Discipline for On-Ice Conduct, the following factors will be taken into account:

(a) The type of conduct involved: conduct in violation of League Playing Rules, and whether the conduct is intentional or reckless, and involves the use of excessive and unnecessary force. Players are responsible for the consequences of their actions.

(b) Injury to the opposing Player(s) involved in the incident.

(c) The status of the offender and, specifically, whether the Player has a history of being subject to Supplementary Discipline for On-Ice Conduct. Players who repeatedly violate League Playing Rules will be more severely punished for each new violation.

(d) The situation of the game in which the incident occurred, for example: late in the game, lopsided score, prior events in the game.

(e) Such other factors as may be appropriate in the circumstances.

So, what does this tell me?

The NHL and its Commissioner have the discretion to suspend Ray Emery.

What does it also tell me?

They just didn’t want to do so.