One of the few nice things about a minor penalty, like a hooking call, is the duration is always a given.
The hook could be a minor infraction or a bold water-skiing-like take down, and either way, the responsible party is always going to get two minutes.
It’s simple, yet effective.
There’s no judgement required. Officials don’t need to determine intent or severity. Something is either a hook or it isn’t. If it’s a hook, the penalty is always two minutes.
The system works for players, too. They know the consequence for getting called for a hook is always going to be two minutes. Smart players will assess the on-ice situation, and risk a hook, knowing their team can kill a penalty for two minutes. Smart players will also be mindful of a hook, knowing their team’s penalty kill hasn’t been great, or that their team is down and can’t afford to waste time on a kill.
Whatever a player decides, that kind of planning is possible because a player always knows the penalty for a hook. They don’t have to worry about being called for a 30-second penalty or a three-minute one, depending upon what the official thought of the hook.
So why not extend that model to more severe penalties? Why not come up with a consistent set of penalties for anything deemed a headshot?
NHL GMs are still trying to figure out what to do about headshots in the game and want to broaden the definition of what a headshot is.
That’s fine. A definition is great. But until there’s a standard punishment for taking a headshot against an opponent, players are going to risk them.
Aaron Rome famously got four games against Nathan Horton during the Stanley Cup finals. But most people expected a shorter suspension. But what if the first headshot, no matter who committed it, resulted in an automatic four-game suspension? And what if the automatic suspension dramatically increased for each subsequent infraction, perhaps with a reset after a certain number of games without a headshot?