I have obviously been one of the biggest critic's of the Department of Player Safety and the slap on the wrist punishment in their suspensions over the last 3 years. I feel it is justified however I think the players themselves have a lot to answer for. Especially the union movement of the NHLPA.
With the class action being put to the NHL from past players requesting medical costs to be paid for from on going issues with concussion and ailments related to repeated brain on skull collisions, the NHLPA in this era of greater knowledge need to start taking a pro active approach to protecting the health of their members.
A culture change needs to occur from within the NHLPA before we are going to see player safety come to the forefront and have players lives liveable post their NHL career.
I do not like the decision of the Department of Player Safety for the Dustin Byfuglien suspension. I think it is too short and I also think it is hypocritical in the manner in which Stephane Quintal comes to the 4 game total.
I have used the example of the Staal/Crosby cross check from the playoffs last season as similar reference point. All of the 'factors' Quintal qualifies for the suspension should have been applied to the Staal cross check from the previous playoff season. For me that is the differential that had Staal miss even a phone call to discuss the hit.
There is no consistency with these two decisions. New York fans have every right to be asking for more games for the Byfuglien hit, but really they shouldn't be defending the Staal hit on Crosby. On top of that Winnipeg fans should be up in arms with Byfuglien getting four games with only 5 remaining in their season.
Both hits are dangerous and need to be taken out of the game, it would be helpful if the officials stopped putting their whistles away and actually called penalties on the ice. This is where the NHLPA need to step up and do something about what is happening on the ice.
Ignore the entertainment value we as fans are after, think about this in the context of looking after your teammate or fellow union member. Waiting for the NHL to act and start protecting players is neglegent and will only happen after a serious (and very avoidable) injury occurs. It is sad but a reality we as fans need to brace for when we see it.
Giving the Department of Player Safety a larger window of games to suspend before it being contestable would certainly help. Also stating what they think is acceptable and having it mandated to the league and to their constituency would also help. We are talking about adults here, people who could come together for 'the cause' when it came to money, well it is time to come together for the health and safety of every NHLPA member.
This hit on Kris Letang from Shane Doan shows how the 1990's mentality still floats through the game. 'Finishing your check' is required but watching this hit shows how the players really do not care about the safety of each other. There is no need to make contact here.
Hitting Letang here under the theory of physical impact to make him change his mind next time or fatiguing him from contact later in the game is wrong, that hit, that technique only had one outcome, an awkward hit into the boards. Even if you take the opinion the hit is not late, the hit does not attempt to retrieve the puck, the only potential outcome of this hit is what happened.
What is important here is the timing of the suspension, it should not matter when the suspension occurs in the year. If a suspension bleeds over into the playoffs then so be it. If you want to clean the game up, make sure the punishment is just as long in the playoffs as it is in the first 10 games of the season.
So come on NHLPA, step up and show you are capable adults and understand that you cannot keep shifting the blame for concussions onto another party. After all you are the people on the ice doing these acts.
Thanks for reading.