In the aftermath of on-ice ugliness, Alex Tanguay hears one excuse. And he's tired of it.

Game's too fast to avoid dangerous collisions?

The Calgary Flames winger refuses to buy that explanation. He scoffs at the predictable defence of line-crossers.

"We've all been playing hockey for 15, 20 years," says Tanguay, just starting to roll on a quiet game-day morning in Los Angeles. "You have that split second and you know what you're doing, you know your actions on the ice, you know where you're pushing, what you're doing with your body.

"The game is fast. It is fast on TV. But for the guys on the ice, you have that split second to slow down, to protect yourself . . . to do things differently. I don't care what anyone says, we have that split second to stop, to not throw the elbow, to not do those things."

And should a player opt for recklessness — sadly, a regular occurrence these days — it's the National Hockey League's duty to take action. To punish — and to punish severely.

No more pussyfooting around.

"I'm not talking two games, I'm talking 20, 25 games, half a year," says Tanguay. "Then guys are going to start thinking about it. The only way we're going to clear those things is if the league starts handing down big punishment. Because if they do, guys are really going to think about it — with their wallet, with their career. If you miss half a season because you're suspended, it's hard to get back after that."

Tanguay, presumably, was mighty pleased when he awoke from his afternoon's nap.

Because he would have discovered that the NHL took ownership — finally — of a situation by suspending Matt Cooke for the rest of the Pittsburgh Penguins' regular-season (10 games) and the first round of the playoffs.