Department of Player Safety : Consistently Inconsistent.

May 4, 2013; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Bruins left wing Daniel Paille (20) and Toronto Maple Leafs goalie James Reimer (34) hit against the boards during the second period in game two of the first round of the 2013 Stanley Cup playoffs at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Once has to wonder what exactly is going on at the Department of Player Safety. In two different circumstances, an attacking player strikes a player with the puck in the head. At the end of one scenario, the player struck suffered no injury and the game continued. (This hit warranted a suspension.) In the other scenario, the struck player had to be treated for a laceration to the head made by contact. (The striking player was not even brought up for supplemental discipline.)

I came out against the hit made by Andrew Ference on Mikhail Grabovski. That Grabovski suffered no injury was inconsequential to my ire. It was a deliberate hit to the head, and the DoPS was right to suspend him. I like Ference, and (for the most part) love his physicality on the ice.

So, lets take a look at Dion Phaneuf‘s hit on Daniel Paille. Phaneuf’s primary point of contact was the head. The only mitigating circumstance is that Phaneuf did not attempt to throw an elbow in the mix. In the video though, it is quite clear that Phaneuf was targeting Paille’s head. (Paille did not bow his head into the shot, like Eller did on the Gryba hit.)

Paille was incensed by the lack of the call, and he was fuming as he was being tended to by the open cut on his face.  Claude Julien was more circumspect, and he shared his opinion after the game.“We say this all the time: it’s stuff that the league takes care of. Our opinion doesn’t really matter, so I’ll leave it at that and move on because I think, right now, the focus has got to be on our team and how we have to be better next game, versus worrying about that stuff.”

So, is Rule 48 an actual law that is enforced or shall the NHL hand the player’s union a grievance on a plate when it comes time for the next lockout? Paille was hit in the head. Grabovski was hit in the head. In both cases, Ference and Phaneuf initiated contact and went for the head. In both cases, the referees missed the hit. (That’s another thing the NHL might want to take a look at.) However, in one case Shanahan decided to intervene on behalf of one team (Toronto), and chose to ignore violent contact on another (Boston). While I am a Bruins fan, and I have to acknowledge a level of bias in my writing, it is disturbing to see how a shot to the head requires stitches doesn’t seem to draw the ire of the department that is supposed to avoid these hits.

So I ask this of Brendan Shanahan and the Department of Player Safety. If you’re going to attempt to enforce the rules, a little uniformity would be appreciated from the fans of the National Hockey League.

Topics: Boston Bruins, Brendan Shanahan, Department Of Player Safety, Toronto Maple Leafs

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  • pd_van

    At least you’re consistent in your baseless whining. Clean hit. Story over.

    • http://twitter.com/Godwentwhoops Andrew E Thompson

      You can end a guy’s career with a leg breaking tackle and get a three game suspension for the red card, you can use racist epithets and get four games like John Terry, you can bite a player and get a yellow card like Defoe and get only a yellow card. Or you can be Suarez and get 10 games for this act.

      How can we respect suspensions and punishments when they are so arbitrary and inconsistent?

      In your own words.
      That was my point pd. At least you seem to agree when it comes to soccer.

      • pd_van

        I get it that you’re frustrated because they lost but there was nothing suspendable about this hit.

        -Elbow in
        -No target of the head–incidental contact because Phaneuf taller and Paille was bent forward
        -Hit within plane of body
        -Didn’t leave feet
        -Didn’t speed up
        -Didn’t drive him into boards

        Sure, the NHL’s discipline is arbitrary and inconsistent–2 games for the Gryba hit that was legal–but you’re picking on the wrong hit to use as an example.

        *And I came up with this all by myself without having to read through your old comments on different subjects.

        • http://twitter.com/Godwentwhoops Andrew E Thompson

          and if wasn’t for the stitches in Paille’s head your argument on a clean hit might be valid.

          • pd_van

            So, stitches are the measuring stick for suspensions nowadays? Hahaha, that’s awesome.

          • http://www.causewaycrowd.com/ Billy Bryson

            Has nothing to do with winning and losing. Paille was standing pretty upright and elbow in or not, a shoulder or arm to the head is just as illegal whether or not it was tucked in. The principle point of contact is the head and it doesn’t matter how or why it happened just that it did. Everything you used to defend this hit works perfectly for the Gryba hit yet he got 2 games and Phaneuf got nothing, why is that? All the league had to do was call Phaneuf, even if they weren’t going to suspend him and just have a little chat and then no one would care. But to come out and make up rules like rule 48 and say no more headshots and then you pick and choose who to suspend based on whatever reasons they’re using is a joke and thats the point of this article. I wonder had Chara or Seidenberg hit Kessel or someone like this if Leafs fans would still agree it was so “clean”…

          • http://twitter.com/Godwentwhoops Andrew E Thompson

            and as I keep trying to explain, with that Eller hit, (which we both agree was clean) stitches and blood seem to be the ‘Shanaban’ limit. So, I’m wondering if someone drops Lupul tonight, or beans Kadri and they’re not penalized you’ll get what were saying here. Probably not.

          • pd_van

            I get it. Chara concussed Grabovski in a game a couple of years ago and there was no penalty or suspension . . . and life went on.

            Whatever happened to Boston fans and teams being all rough, tough and taking no prisoners? You sound like Habs fans right how. Pretty sad.