Vulgar Opinions: NHL Discipline Needs A Serious Revamp
This is what we know this NHL playoffs: Brent Seabrook got 3 games for one of the most disgusting hits I’ve ever seen. Matt Cook got 7 games for going knee-on-knee on Tyson Barrie (still gross, but a far cry from knocking a guy’s head off the boards like a ping pong ball). Milan Lucic got 0 games for spearing Danny DeKeyser in the junk. The NHL isn’t suspending enough for questionable antics definitely, but more to the point of this article, the NHL’s current system of suspensions isn’t strict enough to be a deterrent.
Here’s what I propose, and yes I realize this would require changes to the CBA and therefore never happen:
Suspension Decisions – Made by a panel of 3, no hockey affiliation, accredited law degree required.
Appeals – Made by a panel of 7, no hockey affiliation, accredited law degree required.
No more of this bullsh*t NHL shadow government that never punishes teams like Boston or the Rangers. Let’s have our decision makes be people who went to school specifically to learn to apply rules and dole out justice in a consistent manner. No more former meathead players, no more potential for any bias at all.
The Rule Changes
- All majors are to be reviewed by the Player Safety Department to see if they’re worthy of further discipline.
- The panel of 3 can request player hearings to review incidents.
- Head-shots, kneeing, charging, and boarding all earn an automatic major and game misconduct, even for incidental contact.
- Injuries sustained by the victim are irrelevant.
- Suspensions may include exhibition games to keep the player off the ice, but these games will not count towards the minimum length of their suspension.
The Transition Period
Start hitting these guys with suspensions that matter. In fact, start making more hits suspension worthy. There’s no reason that boarding and hits to the head shouldn’t be automatic majors and game misconducts. “But…but…some players might get penalized by accident!” Tough sh*t. In the real world it’s called a DUI, not a DUI but only if you mowed someone down. In the NHL it should be a punished reckless action, not a punished reckless action only if you put a guy in a stretcher.
Hold teams accountable for stuffing their rosters full of dirty players. Unlike the NFL, the NHL largely lacks an off-ice “character issues” problem, but judging by the amount of assaults that occur under the guise of “hockey play,” it certainly has an on-ice one. ‘Player X doesn’t seem to know the difference between a dirty hit and a clean one’ should absolutely make a guy sink like a stone in the draft.