The NHL Department of Player Safety’s role is to hand out suspensions and/or fines to players who have engaged in an activity on the ice where the punishment handed out by the official was not appropriate to the situation. That is supposed to be their role, however, what they are doing this year is nothing short of a joke.
The NHL Department of Player Safety has handed out 12 suspensions to players this year (and 1 to John Chayka) with the shortest suspension being 1 game handed to Alex Chiasson for cross-checking Jimmy Vesey and the longest to Tom Wilson which was a 7 game suspension for boarding Brandon Carlo. The total number of games handed out this year in 29 games total over 12 players which average 2.41 games per suspension.
There has also been a total of 21 fines given out to players this year ( San Jose head coach Bob Boughner and the Washington Capitals have also been fined) for a total of $96,694 which averages $4,604.50 per fine. Players can be fined up to 50% of a day’s salary up to a maximum of $10,000 for their first offense and up to $15,000 for any subsequent offense.
The NHL Department of Player Safety has a chance with every suspension and fine to send a message to the league that dangerous and reckless play will not be tolerated in the league and will be punished. However what they have done this year is hidden behind the rule book and make excuses for why they are not throwing the rule book at offenders, or in this case, repeat offenders. A repeat offender is defined by the NHL Department of Player Safety as “a repeat offender for 18 months following his most recent incident that resulted in a suspension. His status as a repeat offender in this category is used to determine the amount of salary forfeited should he receive another suspension”. So under that definition, Tom Wilson is a repeat offender.
On May 3rd 2021 Tom Wilson fell on top of Rangers forward Buchnevich seemingly driving his head into the ice and proceeded to punch him in the back of the head. Coming to his teammate’s defense, Panarin jumped onto of Wilson which then led to a scrum in the corner. Wilson and Panarin seemed to break away from the group which leads to a clear view of Wilson grabbing Panarin by the back of his head (Possibly his hair) and pulling him down to the ice with what can only be described as reverse DDT (Shout-out wrestling fans). Upon hitting the ice Wilson would unleash a barrage of punches (With his gloves on) to Panarin before picking him up and rag dolling him again. In what could be the strangest part of this whole situation, Wilson would then proceed to taunt Panarin from the bench with what I can only describe as a poorly executed Hulk Hogan impression.
Wilson would be handed a 10-minute misconduct and a double minor for roughing. Wilson would return to the game after serving his time and play in the third while Panarin is now done for the season. The discussion and outrage online would proceed while everyone was waiting for an announcement of a suspension. Well, it finally came in the form of a $5000 fine for roughing on Buchnevich. Nothing else, that is the tweet.
The NHL Department of Player Safety has dropped the ball here yet again, allowing Tom Wilson to do whatever he wants on the ice with little to no discipline. This isn’t a Tom Wilson issue though, sure what he did was horrible and needs to be addressed, but the NHL Department of Player Safety let him get away with it. Wilson falls into their repeat offender description so why did he only get a fine and why was the Panarin incident not even looked at?
Taken directly from the NHL’s website
“The Department of Player Safety watches every NHL game from a state-of-the-art video room at the League headquarters in New York City. The video room consists of 25 high-tech monitors that stream both the home and away broadcast of every game. When a specific play requires further review, the Department uses editing software to clip the play and all relevant replays. This video is then emailed to the entire Department within minutes.”
Seems to me like they have resources to make these types of decisions, but Parros and his team do not have a clue how to enforce the rules and slap players with a suspension to deter this type of behavior from happening again. Whenever a suspension is handed out, we always see the hockey world say it is not enough, it one of the rare moments where every fan base comes together and hates the NHL Player Safety Department. They have gotten one suspension right this year and that was Alex Edler’s knee on Zach Hyman which cost Edler 2 games. All the other suspensions have been too short or not warranted of a suspension based on the standard Parros has set for himself and his team.
So what needs to change? Why does this keep happening? I find myself asking this almost every time the department sneaks into the conversation, and the answer is simple. Blow it up and start over. You do not need a former player to be the head of the department, especially one who has a brand called “Violent Gentleman” and was know for fighting throughout most of his career. Bringing in a third party to observe the games and handle the suspensions through observation and interpretation of the rules to a reasonable extent in the given situation is the only way the NHL is going to fix this problem. Until then players are just going to keep doing what they are doing as a $5000 fine for assaulting a player would be the equivalent of fining me $66 dollars for the same thing.
The game needs more consistency, for a league that preaches that they protect their players at all costs and they care about injuries to player, they have an awful way of showing it.
Twitter: @CoachJosh16 & @OrionSportscast
Instagram: @Coach_Josh16 & @Orion_Sportcast