Niklas Kronwall Suspension Makes NHL Player Safety a Mockery


Apr 23, 2015; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall (55) skates with the puck in the first period against the Tampa Bay Lightning in game four of the first round of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Joe Louis Arena. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Today, The Detroit Red Wings Niklas Kronwall was suspended for Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals after a hit to the head on Tampa Bay Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov.

Look, I’m not going to argue the suspension in terms of the hit. The NHL Department of Player Safety backed up their ruling with textual support from the rulebook. The hit was borderline illegal. Had a few minor, unavoidable details been arranged in a different manner (for example, Kucherov’s head being an inch or two higher), it would have been a legitimate and clean check. I don’t think it’s suspension worthy on its own, but I can understand the ruling.

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What makes this ruling so aggravating is that it is a totally arbitrary, ridiculous, pointless, and downright asinine ruling in the context of not only the 2015 NHL Playoffs, but where the league in its entirety stands today.

Like I said, I don’t disagree with the ruling itself. However, I find it sickening that it happened. Suspending Kronwall for such a borderline offense serves absolutely no purpose to the league whatsoever. The DoPS doesn’t exist to just punish players who do wrong. It exists to create precedence in order to eradicate dangerous play. What stance do they expect to establish in the sixth game of a playoff series? ESPECIALLY when it was preceded by MULTIPLE plays that were much more dangerous.

P.K. Subban lumberjacked Mark Stone’s wrist with his stick in GAME ONE of that series. Deliviered a microfracture in Stone’s wrist. Subban didn’t even get a phone call…

Last night, the same night as Kronwall’s hit, Alexander Ovechkin rammed Thomas Hickey into the boards from behind. A cross-check and boarding hybrid. No attention.

And here’s my favorite: Just a game before, here is Jason Garrison elbowing Justin Abelkader’s face into the boards AFTER LEAPING INTO THE AIR (which was the biggest offense in Kronwall’s hit, apparently).

Now, you can’t compare Kronwall’s hit to these incidents. What you can compare is the intent to injure and the mindset behind each one. The DoPS serves to take these plays out of the game. Why arbitrarily choose ONE of these (not to mention the most innocent one) to set some sort of bar? Is Chris Pronger sitting in Toronto somewhere flipping a coin each time something like this happens?

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Detroit Red Wings /

Detroit Red Wings

WHAT is that department trying to prove? I can’t seem to find it. They’re establishing an acceptable standard of play IN THE FIRST GAME OF THE PLAYOFFS if they don’t punish Subban for that slash. They’re further allowing dangerous hits if they don’t punish Garrison for that board/leap/charge/whatever  it was, and Ovechkin’s boarding. They made it obvious that player safety wasn’t their goal when they didn’t go out and make it a priority in the past two weeks by punishing those players for those plays.

Where is the consistency? Why must they blur the lines? What stupid political game are they playing? Such an out-of-the blue suspension won’t begin to create any sort of standard. Consistent and equal judgement against several dangerous plays will.

They’re not protecting the players of the league. They’re making everyone wonder why in the hell we even have this department in the first place.

Next: Is Jimmy Howard still the number one goalie for the Red Wings?