Lance Franklin clashes with Mick Malceski during Friday's round 23 match at the SCG. Photo: Channel Seven
UPDATE: Hawthorn has lost its most devastating forward for its first final but will still boast a player officially crowned as the league's highest goalkicker - and unofficially endorsed as the most influential player of the season.
Lance Franklin and the Hawks have accepted a one-match ban for his high bump on Sydney's Nick Malceski last weekend. He was saved from a longer ban by the match review panel's decision to grade his bump as negligent, the most lenient conduct grading, because it occurred one step after Malceski had kicked the ball.
''If it had've been from a lot longer way out and had he jumped in the air we would've gone with reckless,'' panel chairman Mark Fraser told the AFL website.
With Hawthorn to lose Franklin and the Swans to regain their spearhead, Kurt Tippett, the final on Friday night has been dramatically reshaped from their clash at ANZ Stadium last weekend and from last year's grand final.
Tippett joined the Swans from Adelaide after last season.
While none of Malceski's facial bones were broken in the incident, the panel said that footage and the Swans defender's reaction, combined with a medical report from the club, triggered a grading of medium impact. That created a two-match ban that could be cut to one with a guilty plea.
Franklin was the only player due to be involved in the finals to be sidelined. Hawthorn implemented a strategy of diffusing its goalkicking burden away from Franklin after last year's grand final loss.
The main beneficiary has been Jarryd Roughead, who was crowned the Coleman medallist after last weekend's final round.
Collingwood midfielder Scott Pendlebury said Roughead was deserving of more than just recognition for his 68-goal season. He said Roughead's value to Hawthorn in 2013 surpassed even the value of Brownlow Medal favourite Gary Ablett to Gold Coast.
''I would love to see Jarryd Roughead win [the Brownlow] because he has probably been the MVP of the comp, I reckon,'' said Pendlebury, one of the favourites for the medal. ''I think [Roughead] has been the most important player in the best side so you could probably say he is the most valuable player in the league.''
On Monday morning, before Franklin was offered the one-match ban, Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson said there were ''a number of players'' who could replace him. He declined to say whether they included Sam Grimley, a 22-year-old who performed well in the VFL at the weekend.
''The benefit of our squad is that we've got greater depth, I believe, in terms of the type of players we could bring in to replace a whole manner of positions, in particular if 'Bud' [Franklin] was to miss,'' he said.
Despite being a target less often this season, Franklin has still kicked 58 goals. Besides Roughead, Luke Breust (37), Jack Gunston (35) and Cyril Rioli (18) have 90 goals between them.
''We have worked particularly hard over the course of the past 12 months trying to spread our load, not just to do with 'Buddy' but with our midfield as well … so it doesn't just fall to the same three or four important players for us to perform well and win finals,'' Clarkson said.
While the coach said the spread of goals had become a ''really important'' trait of the Hawks he stressed the strategy change did not mean Franklin was less valued. ''We need him. He's a very important player for our side,'' he said.
In-form Essendon midfielder Jake Melksham has been offered a two-match ban for a strike that left Richmond's Daniel Jackson with a bloodied nose. In isolation the ban could have been cut to one match with a guilty plea, however the Bomber was burdened by 93.75 carry-over points.
St Kilda's Leigh Montagna and Brisbane's Matt Maguire have both been offered one-match bans for striking, respectively, Fremantle's Ryan Crowley and Geelong's Steve Johnson. Maguire's penalty can be reduced to a reprimand but Montagna's cannot be reduced to a reprimand due to carry-over points.
Four players – Hawthorn's Luke Hodge, Adelaide's Sam Jacobs and West Coast's Matt Priddis, GWS' Toby Green – have been fined for umpire contact, with heavier fines for Hodge and Greene because their conduct was deemed reckless.
Ten players in the Melbourne-Western Bulldogs match were charged for involvement in a melee, with Demons tagger Jordie McKenzie receiving with heaviest fine, $2700, for instigating it.
Port Adelaide midfielder Dom Cassisi was cleared of a sling tackle on Carlton's Marc Murphy due to insufficient impact.
MATCH REVIEW PANEL – RD 23
Lance Franklin (Haw) rough conduct to Nick Malceski (Syd). Negligent, medium impact, high contact. 225 points (2 matches); 168.75 with guilty plea (1 match).
Matt Maguire (StK) striking Steve Johnson (Geel). Intentional, low impact, body contact. 125 points (1 match); 93.75 with guilty plea (reprimand).
Leigh Montagna (StK) striking Ryan Crowley (Fre). Intentional, low impact, body contact. 125 points up due to carry-over to 162.5 (1 match); 121.88 with guilty plea (1 match).
Jake Melksham (Ess) striking Daniel Jackson (Rich). Intentional, low impact, high contact. 225 points up due to carry-over to 318.75 (3 matches); 239.06 with guilty plea (2 matches).
Luke Hodge (Haw) & Toby Greene (GWS) first offence reckless umpire contact. $1200 fine; $900 with guilty plea.
Sam Jacobs (Adel) & Matt Priddis (WC) first offence reckless umpire contact. $1200 fine; $900 with guilty plea.
Jordie McKenzie (Melb) first offence instigating a melee. $3600 fine; $2700 with guilty plea.
Jack Viney, Max Gawn, Dean Kent, Colin Sylvia (all Melb) and Lachie Hunter, Jordan Roughead, Ryan Griffen, Jarrad Grant (all WB) first offence melee involvement. $1600 fine; $1200 with guilty plea.
Will Minson (WB) second offence melee involvement. $2400 fine; $1800 with guilty plea.
Lance Franklin (Haw) striking Heath Grundy (Syd).
Dom Cassisi (PA) rough conduct to Marc Murphy (Carl).