In a better version of the NHL, Leon Draisaitl would have faced serious consequences for a nasty cheapshot in Game 4 of the first-round playoff series between the Edmonton Oilers and San Jose Sharks.
In the version of the NHL we actually have, the slap on the wrist he got was all the league was capable of doing.
On Tuesday night, Draisaitl was clearly frustrated. His Edmonton Oilers were in San Jose, trailing the Sharks by five goals, the fifth of which had been scored less than a minute earlier. He’d just failed to win a puck along the boards, so he took his frustration out on San Jose centre Chris Tierney:
The referees, correctly, decided that a deliberate spear to an opponent’s groin warranted a five-minute penalty and a game misconduct, and Draisaitl was duly ejected from the match. The NHL’s Department of Player Safety weighed in on Wednesday, fining Draisaitl $2,500 and change but levying no further punishment.
Edmonton’s Leon Draisaitl fined $2,569.44, the maximum allowable under the CBA, for spearing San Jose’s Chris Tierney.
— NHL Player Safety (@NHLPlayerSafety) April 19, 2017
It’s all part of the NHL’s apparent commitment to keeping spearing part of the game of hockey.
The truth is that, even had it wanted to, player safety could not have suspended Draisaitl. Spearing happens relatively often in the majors and the league disciplinarians rarely raise much fuss over it. The obvious recent example is that of Sidney Crosby, who went not only unsuspended but wasn’t even penalized:
Even Brad Marchand, who raises the cheapshot to an art form, doesn’t merit much more than a sigh from player safety when he does this sort of thing. He was suspended for two meaningless games in April after the Bruins had already clinched a playoff