The NHL Department of Players Safety has long been the butt of many jokes in the Hockey world. They pretty much continued that streak with their latest punishment handed down to the NHL’s biggest star, Connor McDavid.
On Tuesday night in a game between the Montreal Canadiens and Edmonton Oilers, McDavid took a run at Habs forward Jesperi Kotkaniemi late in the first period, leveling him with a hit to the face. Kotkaniemi went down and McDavid was given a two-minute roughing call on the play and nothing else.
Well, that's some garbage from McDavid. pic.twitter.com/ra5RYasRU5
— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) March 30, 2021
McDavid has not been protected by the NHL officials for most of his career, regularly getting targeted by the opposing team for “borderline” hits and plays against him. I understand the league trying not to give certain players special treatment, but it’s a joke that many times, players get away with hooks, slashes, or trips that would almost certainly be called on most other players. With McDavid, it’s as if the rules of the 1980’s apply to him still.
This play says to me, he’s starting to take protecting himself into his own hands. Which, if you’re the NHL, is a massive problem.
On Wednesday morning, McDavid received a slap on the wrist.
Edmonton’s Connor McDavid has been fined $5,000, the maximum allowable under the CBA, for Elbowing Montreal’s Jesperi Kotkaniemi.
— NHL Player Safety (@NHLPlayerSafety) March 31, 2021
McDavid makes $14M this season, so $5,000 to him is the equivalent of about $18 to someone making a $50,000 a year salary. It’s basically nothing. It’s extra chicken and a side of guac and chips at Chipotle. Financially, he’ll learn nothing from this and the league looks soft, again, in their handling of high hits.
Shots to the head, no matter who the player is, need to be called and punished more strictly. It’s the only way you’ll weed-out these types of hits in the game and allow players to not have their brains be scrambled eggs by the time they are 30 years old.
So the NHL needs to again face an issue they’ve had for years: Do you call the rulebook or do you call the game?
We saw clearly with the Tim Peel incident just a couple of days ago that referees are calling the game. Evening-out penalties because that’s the only way to have fair games, not calling the action on the ice by the rulebook.
So they have a choice to make, because it’s clear as day to the average hockey fan now, do you call the rulebook so that players like McDavid don’t have to run guys and goon on the ice to stand up for themselves when the referees won’t make the proper calls, or do you call it by game management and let the players continue to police themselves, letting dangerous hits continue to be part of the game?