Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Right idea, but oddly arbitrary NHL decision to suspend Niklas Kronwall for Game 7

Niklas Kronwall did leave his feet to strike Nikita Kucherov Monday night during the Red Wings' Game 6 Stanley Cup playoff loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning. It's the type of dangerous hit that has no place in hockey, nor any sport for that matter..
But if the NHL is going to take measures such as suspending Kronwall, the Red Wings' best defenseman and in some ways their most important player, for such a critical game, the league must become much less arbitrary in its rulings overall.
The NHL has traditionally set different standards for the playoffs. Presumably it's why Montreal defenseman P.K. Subban, the Canadians' top player and perhaps the best defenseman in the league, wasn't suspended after his two-handed, baseball-swing-like slash fractured Ottawa rookie-scoring sensation Mark Stone's wrist. Moments before Subban had his stick way up, made contact and was, oddly, not given a penalty. At Tampa in Game 5, in an act that seemed like revenge for an earlier incident, Lightning defenseman Jason Garrison finished off the Red Wings' Justin Abdelkader by running his head into the boards. Abdelkader was half-way-down and in a vulnerable position at the time. A few years ago in the playoffs, just as a game ended, Nashville defenseman Shea Weber slammed Detroit's Henrik Zetterberg's head violently and dangerous into the boards. No suspensions were handed down after each of the above-mentioned incidents. So why this one?
Kucherov was carrying the puck at the time Kronwall hit him. The referees saw the play. They didn't even call a penalty.
If the NHL is going to gain the credibility it has lacked because of these type of subjective rulings, it has be more standard across the board. As is, everybody is confused, from the players to the fans, about when they are going to let "the boys decide it on the ice and play" and when they are going to "call the game according to the rule book."
And when player safety really seems to matter, and when it really seems like it doesn't.

My column. Don't be surprised if Kirk Gibson wins his toughest challenge yet:



Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home