[UPDATE: 4/19/14 1:58PM EST] The NHL Player Safety Department has officially fined Milan Lucic $5,000 for his spear of Danny DeKeyser.
Over the course of the 2013-2014 NHL season, a total of 33 suspensions occurred for a total of 118 games. The list of offenses include Elbowing, Hit/Check to the Head, Boarding, Charging, Kneeing, Punching an Unsuspecting Opponent, and one each for Slashing and Goalie Interference. The common theme through all of these suspensions is that they often arise from dangerous hits and player safety. The NHL, like the NFL, have talked at length about player safety and improving conditions within the league. This is all well and good and the thought is certainly correct. The problem is that the NHL and the NHL Player Safety Department have been inconsistent and often hypocritical in meting out discipline. This has come up again with Milan Lucic’s spear on Danny DeKeyser only a few weeks after he had a similar incident with Alexei Emelin. Word has come out today that at worst Lucic will get a fine for this incident.
Now one common theme that has often shown up in suspensions has been the NHL Player Safety Department acknowledging that a player had no intent to injure and simply made a bad decision in how they made contact during a fast moving play. A very recent example of this was Douglas Murray’s suspension for his check to the head of Michael Kostka. The suspension video expressly makes mention of this; "While we accept Murray’s claim that there was no malicious intent on this hit…" Douglas Murray got a 3 game suspension and had no history of fines or suspension.
It is impossible for anyone that has seen the clip to believe in any way that there was no malicious intent from Lucic. Quite the contrary, he came up behind DeKeyser, delivered a swift blow and then rushed off the ice as DeKeyser went down in obvious pain from the low blow. Further to demonstrate his guilt, Lucic would not talk to the media after the game. This was an obvious intent to injure from a player that has a long history of reckless behavior. He has gotten punished a few times, but not nearly enough with all of the things he has done and ultimately gotten away with. Instead, his bad behavior has been reinforced and in fact rewarded by the lack of action the NHL has taken against him on numerous occasions.
The NHL, NHL Player Safety Department, and the NHLPA should be ashamed at themselves. They again ignore their own philosophy of player safety and reward Lucic’s play by doing nothing to him. Oh sorry, he might get a $5,000 fine, but anyone that thinks that he will notice $5,000 of his $5.5 million dollar salary missing is just lying to themselves.
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