NHL Player Safety Needs Consistency

Montreal Canadiens forward Jesperi Kotkaniemi suffers concussion following hit from Colorado Avalanche defenseman Nikita Zadorov. Photo Credits: Getty Images

Consistency, is a problem that needs to be addressed in the NHL player safety department. This past week in the NHL, the player safety showed why it isn’t a job taken seriously. Following a few incidents that could be deemed punishable by the league. Instead, they have shown plenty of inconsistent work.

Nikita Zadorov slew foot

Video credits: Sportsnet.ca
The first incident was a slew foot by Colorado Avalanche defenseman Nikita Zadorov on Montreal Canadiens forward Jesperi Kotkaniemi. At first glance, the play looks as if Zadorov had just hit Kotkaniemi into the boards causing him to land awkwardly on his head. However, when looking closer it becomes obvious that Zadorov had slid his feet behind Kotkaniemi’s.  This caused the 19 year old forward to flip and land hard on his head.

It is understandable that the refs may have missed the call as it may haven’t been clear right away. The department of player safety must have taken multiple looks which should have shown the illegal play that caused injury. There is no reason that they should have missed it.

Now, the Canadiens are without their young centre for likely an extended time period as he was concussed on the play. While, Zadorov walked away with not even a hearing for the slew foot.

The Zadorov play should have gotten him some sort of suspension, as Boston Bruins forward Brad Marchand had been suspended for a similar play last season. Thus showing the inconsistency of the players safety department.

Brady Tkachuk Crosscheck

Video Credits: Sportsnet.ca
The second play is Ottawa Senators forward Brady Tkachuk‘s attack on Philadelphia Flyers forward Scott Laughton. While Tkachuk was fined just under $2,500, the attack was warranted a suspension of some sort.

Laughton was cross checked and then jumped on from behind by Tkachuk late in Saturday’s game. The fact that Tkachuk jumped him should have given him more than a fine, as less worthy plays have been given suspensions in the past. Laughton could have gotten seriously injured on the play.

Luckily, unlike the last play Laughton is fine but still players won’t know what is suspendable anymore. Some players get three or four games for the same offense that Tkachuk committed against Laughton.

The inconsistencies of the Department

The department of player safety is supposed to keep their players safe. Based on the incidents this past weekend they are not doing a great job. Earlier in November, the NHL suspended Washington Capitals forward Garnet Hathaway for three games after he spat in the face of an opponent.

While, that is an unacceptable act by a player, it isn’t as worthy of a suspension as if he put a player’s safety in danger. This with also the fact that during the 2018 NHL playoffs, Brad Marchand was only given a warning for licking Ryan Callahan and no further discipline. Showing that the department doesn’t have any consistency with its rulings.

Something needs to change yet again with player safety. No matter who is in charge, there has always been an inconsistency issue with the way incidents are handled.

It is only a matter of time, that a player gets really badly hurt due to the inconsistency as the players have no clue what is over the line for a suspension. Somebody needs to step up with consistency to prevent injuries in the future.