Sidney Crosby is the face of the NHL. He’s often the player featured in league advertising, his team is often featured on nationally televised games, and he’s one of the most elite hockey players in the game today.
He should also be getting a call from the Department of Player Safety.
Last night, when the Pittsburgh Penguins were on their way to a win over the Washington Capitals, Crosby came skating in and hit goaltender Braden Holtby as he handled the puck in the trapezoid behind the net.
If you’re a Dallas Stars fan, you may have a sense of deja vu watching that play. It looks similar to a hit leveled by former Stars center Cody Eakin last season on New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist.
This play got Eakin a four game suspension. He skated in, attempted to squeeze by Lundqvist and the boards, and instead made direct contact to the head of the netminder. Crosby, in his hit on Holtby, skated in, attempted to squeeze between the goalie and the boards, and made direct contact to the head of the Capitals netminder.
When you boil it down, the plays are quite similar, and if one deserves a four game suspension, then why wouldn’t the other?
Some will point out that the speed at which Eakin came into the hit, his straight-forward angle of the hit, and the resulting violence of the collision would be worthy of a higher number of games as it is a much more dangerous play. Others will give Crosby the benefit of the doubt on his hit, as he seems to slow down prior to the collision with the netminder.
However, the Department of Player Safety has said in the past that they want to be consistent with suspending to the action and not the result of the action. In my mind, Crosby should receive at least one or two games for this hit. It’s less dangerous than the Eakin hit, but it isn’t so disparate from it that a suspension shouldn’t be considered at all.
The league’s new Department of Player Safety personnel could set a standard here that consistency will be applied regardless of the notoriety of the teams and/or players involved. The question is will they?