NHL Department of Player Safety is Failing in the 2014 Playoffs


It’s time for someone to stand up and speak out because the NHL Department of Player Safety is failing in this year’s playoffs. The job of player safety is to do simply what it says, keep players safe. Either its missing events, or it’s not punishing to the full extent, or it has it’s priorities messed up. A disclaimer before I get started, most of the events I’m going to talk about will be related to New York Rangers players, simply because that’s the team I get to watch the most. However, if there is an event you feel I missed you can comment below and I’ll look into it and possibly add it to the list.

Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

Playoff Suspensions:

Player safety, up to this point in the playoffs, has suspended three players: Chicago Blackhawks forward Brent Seabrook for an illegal hit to the head on St. Louis Blues Captain, David Backes. Minnesota Wild forward Matt Cooke for a kneeing incident on Colorado Avalanche defenseman Tyson Barrie. Lastly, Blackhawks Brandon Bollig for an illegal hit on Keith Ballard of the Wild. For what it’s worth, I agree with those suspensions, but that’s not enough for me. The department missed too many others and something has to change.

Water Bottles:

The fact that I even have to mention this is absolutely ridiculous, and an embarrassment to the sport. During the Montreal Canadiens series with the Boston Bruins, Bruins forward, Shawn Thornton, sprayed water at Canadiens’ defense man P.K. Subban and was fined $2,820.52. During the series between the Rangers and the Pittsburgh Penguins, Rangers’ goaltender Henrik Lundqvist sprayed water on Penguins’ star Sidney Crosby during a large scrum at the end of a period and was fined $5,000. Are these people serious? This is water we are talking about. A melted form of what covers the rink. Maybe if it was some sort of nuclear acid, or even Gatorade, I could understand a little better. However, it was neither of those things; it was plain old water for crying out loud! It’s absolutely ridiculous that the NHL would even consider fining these two players for their actions. When you look at the context of the incidents, it seems even more ridiculous, Subban was at the Bruins bench chirping back and forth with Thornton when the water was sprayed. In the scrum in New York, Lundqvist sprayed water on Crosby, who was partaking in a massive dog-pile of an altercation in front of the Rangers net. In both instances it’s lucky that the players did not get physically involved, but instead sprayed some water and went on with their lives. The reasons for the suspension were “inappropriate behavior” which in my opinion is completely ridiculous, especially when you consider the other actions that have come to pass in these playoffs. Also to be considered; what’s with the inconsistency? Anaheim Ducks’ player Corey Perry sprayed water in the glove of Los Angeles Kings’ player Jeff Carter, why wasn’t he fined for his actions? If anything what Perry did was worse than what Lundqvist and Thornton did, because Subban and Crosby could just wipe the water off their masks but Carter had to play with a soaking wet glove which is inconvenient at the least.

Not Good Enough:

Two things come to mind when I think of “not good enough” one of them is the $1,474.36 fine on Dallas Stars forward Ryan Garbutt for spearing Corey Perry. The other is a $5,000 fine on Bruins forward Milan Lucic for spearing Daniel Dekeyser. The problem with both of these incidents is that the players who were on the receiving end, were speared in the “private area” which to save time, we’re going to grow up and call nuts. A little over $6,400 between two players for spearing other players in the nuts is equivalent to couch cushion change for these players. It is totally unacceptable and I’m embarrassed as a hockey fan to have to continue to watch the Player Safety department, and the referees these playoffs overall make a mockery of the sport.

Missed Incidents

– Rangers’ defense man Marc Staal cross check to the head of Penguins forward Sidney Crosby.

– Crosby cross check to the head of Staal.

– Crosby spears Rangers’ forward Dominic Moore, in the nuts.

– Crosby slew-foot to Rangers’ defenseman Dan Girardi

– Philadelphia Flyers’ forward Matt Read head shot to Rangers forward Daniel Carcillo

The two cross checks to the head and the head shot are completely unacceptable, and actually infuriating. When you consider the all the knowledge we now have about head injuries and concussions, you would think the NHL would aim to protect its players from things like this; but they have refused, time and time again.

What about the three incidents I mentioned that involved Crosby as the aggressor? Crosby is probably one of the highest revenue earners for the NHL, so in a business sense I could understand why they would not want to punish him. However, this is not about business, it’s about player’s health and safety. The NHL would prefer to protect their business than its employees and it’s an utter embarrassment.

Anyway, I know this was a very long rant, and I thank you all for reading along and hopefully one day something happens in the NHL that forces Player Safety to be more proactive in truly protecting its players.