Too many times has the NHL Player Safety Department failed to properly discipline players.
Problems Need Solving
NHL Player Safety finds negative spotlight a lot. Five times these playoffs, players have been suspended. Another was fined. Thanks to the NHL Player Safety Department, these players have–for the time being–learned their lesson. Unfortunately for Zach Aston-Reese of the Pittsburgh Penguins, a lack of discipline will now cost him the rest of his season.
Hit And Miss Discipline
On Sunday, Tom Wilson of the Washington Capitals nailed Pens defenseman Brian Dumoulin with this hit. Dumoulin left and didn’t return. NHL fans began to express their disapproval. The next day, NHL Player Safety announced they would not hold a hearing for Wilson. On Tuesday, this happened:
The hit sent Aston-Reese to the locker room. Soon, it’ll have him on the surgeon’s table. “We lose a guy to a broken jaw that’s going to require surgery and a concussion because of another high hit to the head. So, you know, at some point, we would hope that the league might do something,” Pens coach Mike Sullivan said after the game. Instantly, fans began to state their feelings about the hit.
Dropping The Ball Hard
Wednesday morning, NHL Player Safety announced Wilson would have a hearing. After a few hours and no news on the outcome, fans and writers alike expected very little.
Still nothing on Tom Wilson. Why is it taking this long? Indicates to me either one game suspension OR even less the Max Fine #WSHvsPIT
— Bob Pompeani (@KDPomp) May 2, 2018
At 7:45 PM it was announced that Wilson is facing a three-game suspension. NHL Player Safety was both criticized and praised for the decision.
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— Matthew Barnaby (@MattBarnaby3636) May 3, 2018
The fact is, if Tom Wilson was suspended after the hit on Dumoulin, then Aston-Reese wouldn’t be finishing his first season on the shelf. NHL Player Safety MUST penalize players the first time. Even fining a player teaches them to play more conservatively.
Conclusion: Too Little Too Late
NHL Player Safety did the right thing suspending Wilson but failed to serve the purpose of protecting players. If they suspended Wilson after hitting Dumoulin, then Aston-Reese would be back on the ice tomorrow. NHL Player Safety needs to live up to their name before it’s too late for someone else.