Sending a message … but what’s the message?

The WCHA and Minnesota State both sent word today that Mavericks center Trevor Bruess has been suspended for one game. The crime? Conduct “detrimental to the game,” the league said.

How about a release to explain the release?

You have to have some background knowledge to understand what the league is getting at when it refers to “recent in-game incidents.” Bruess was called for excessive roughness in the second period of a Jan. 30 game against Minnesota and missed the next night’s rematch on a game disqualification. Last Friday, he took three minor penalties. Last Saturday, he was involved in the hit that caused the gruesome injury to North Dakota’s Derrick LaPoint, but that didn’t merit a penalty.

So there’s cause here. Mavericks coach Troy Jutting all but admitted as much in the school’s release. “A hockey player is responsible for his actions,” he said. “Hockey’s a physical game and Trevor’s a physical player, but you have to play under control and with respect to your opponents.”

Bruess has to meet with WCHA supervisor of officials Greg Shepherd.

The action sounds merited, but part of this doesn’t sit well.

WCHA commissioner Bruce McLeod, in his statement, sent a message to the rest of the league that the game must be played “within the spirit of the rules at all times.”

So why not spell out exactly what happened and why it was unacceptable? Why not say plainly that the WCHA will not tolerate X and Y and Z, and Bruess is being punished for violating that?

If players are going to be held responsible, they deserve to know without a doubt what the expectations are. This is a case where a clearer definition is needed.