Obviously, it was a high hit. Redardless of if it appeared that Abdelkader had his head down or not, Cole should have been more aware of the angle he was hitting from. It wasn't an elbow to the head, but rather a misplaced shoulder. Cole himself said it was an accident. Of course, intention doesn't really mean much when a guy gets cold-cocked in the head, so everyone assumed that Brendan Shanahan, director of player safety and new suspension czar, would look at this. What people didn't assume was a large punishment.
Cole has been suspended three games.
Here's Shanny's explanation video:
There's nothing remiss with the breakdown of the offense; where there is a problem is with the punishment. Recently Shanahan has had a chance to view some pretty icky stuff by individuals. Take, for example, this hit by Raffi Torres on Jan Hejda:
It's a flagarant elbow to the head by a repeat performer. Torres was suspended for four games in April for a hit on Jordan Eberle, and then he conked Brent Seabrook behind the net in the Stanley Cup playoffs - a hit that escaped suspension due to the fact that "there're different rules for play behind the net" or some such hogwash. But to recap: a repeat offender is worthy of a $2500 fine. A guy who has less than a season's experience and who has never been in trouble warrants three games.
I'm not saying that there's any team favoritism going on here (though fans of the Minnesota Wild might disagree), and for those of you who know me or who read me often enough, you know that I don't like saying that the refs or league officials give certain teams preferential treatment. Tin foil hats annoy me. But to have Pavel Datsyuk high-hit Barret Jackman on Tuesday night (probably out of irritation directed at Jackman's rough play) and not get even a whistle for it, and then to have Cole suspended for three games seems a bit asinine. The Blues're already having defensive injury problems, and having to call up another kid isn't helping out much.