Suspensions in the NHL
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By Bob Haynes – Follow me on Twitter @BobHaynesJr
So we all know that the fine structure in the CBA is useless for fining players for illegal contact. The maximum fine of $2500 is useless as a deterrent to prevent future hits that target the head. So the league needs to react to that value with something more meaningful. The players have all been paid all their game checks by the time the playoffs start, so even though they miss a game or two there is really no impact on the player. The NHL needs two methods of suspension; one for the regular season and a different one for the playoffs since the stakes are so different between the regular season and the playoffs.
During the regular season all hits to the head that are deemed to warrant punishment should result in a simple one game suspension minimum. From there the scale should go up to five games, ten games, to a full season. If you cannot figure it out after three warnings and missed game checks, please leave our game permanently.
Now the playoffs are much different. A suspended player does not lose game checks or feel any impact other than being scratched by the NHL. I suggest that a player that targets the head is suspended for playoff games as stated above (1, 5, and 10) along with a player of equal value from their roster. For example: if the illegal check is the players 2nd suspension for head hits and is on a member of the top defense pair of a team, then the offending player along with a top pair defenseman is removed from the next 5 playoff games. So Brayden Schenn is playing on the 2nd line left wing and when Asham crosschecked him the face. The suspension would have been Asham for 5 games along with Pascal Dupuis who was playing left wing for the Penguins. With this method, the Penguins are punished beyond losing a 4th line guy that only plays 4 minutes per game. This method would require each team to fill out a lineup card at the beginning of each game declaring the position of each player in the lineup that night. For example, if the Flyers had Schenn playing center on the card, then Crosby would sit instead of Dupuis.
So this seems radical, but perhaps the fact that the team will lose not only the offending player but also a player in the same slot of the lineup, the team is long term effected more in the playoffs when money is not part of the equation. Players will start to pay attention to their actions.
Good Night and Good Hockey!