NHL’s Soft Rulings on Crosby and Stepan Hits Encourage Vigilante Justice

November 28th, 2015 by Jonathan Willis Leave a reply »

The decline in one-dimensional fighters in the NHL in recent years has been attributed to many different causes. The rise of analytics, mandatory visors for new players and a greater emphasis from coaches on running four lines have all been mentioned as possible causes.

One item that should rank near the top of any list is the newfound credibility of the league’s Department of Player Safety, the agency responsible for handing out suspensions. Tougher punishments have made it more difficult to ice enforcers (who tend to be suspension magnets) while simultaneously reducing how much teams feel they need those players.

It’s a shame then that Player Safety worked against that trend with its approach to a pair of nasty hits this week.

The first worth considering is a one-game ban to Brandon Dubinsky of the Columbus Blue Jackets. Dubinsky and Crosby have some history, including a fight last season, and were engaged in a running battle when the incident occurred. Here’s how Player Safety saw the hit:

Much of the preamble of the explanatory video is spent talking about mitigating factors i ...

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