This afternoon on my way home I saw that Oskar Sundqvist was fined $5,000 by the NHL Department of Player Safety, and I think that’s worthless.
No matter how much the league might want to pretend to care about player safety, actions speak louder than words. Fining a player that is making $2,750,000/year a paltry $5,000 is frankly pointless.
Are we supposed to think that Sundqvist cares now? As if he were fined less the punishment stick?
“Oh well, $5,000, gee, I guess I shouldn’t do that anymore. If had only been $4,000 then maybe the league’s safety commissioner probably wouldn’t have been so mad, but $5,000? I’d better mend my ways,” said Sundqvist in the mirror this afternoon. Or not.
Here’s the video of the hit.
It was assessed a major during the game but then reassessed down to a minor. Why? No one knows, but if player safety felt they needed to fine Sundqvist, then it probably wasn’t just the Blackhawks’ fans that thought it was more than an unfortunate circumstance.
During the post-game press conference head coach, Jeremy Colliton was quoted saying to various media outlets such as NBC,
"“Yeah, well I think it’s an unnecessary hit,” Colliton said. “There’s nothing wrong with finishing your check, but there was no reason, no reason for the contact to his head. It was totally unrelated to the play. It was late."
"“He was trying to get him. So he did. And we end up losing an important player for us, for the rest of the game. Puts extra stress on our defense who have played a lot, especially the top guys. And we end up with a two-minute power play. Doesn’t seem on the right level if you ask me.”"
Look, I don’t care about fighting in the NHL. If two players square up to each other and want to punch it out, then whatever. It’s their choice, it is permitted by the rules, and when the players decide its time to stop fighting in the league, it will happen. They’re adults and they will make whatever choices they want to make.
However, predatory hits have to go, and immediately. The kind we saw last night where a vulnerable player was lined up for high-speed check into stationary objects. Boqvist wasn’t going to be able to protect himself, at all. More than fighting, this has to be removed from the sport.
The league’s player safety stance clearly doesn’t care much about these hits, because if it did, it would worry less about fighting and more about protecting players from dangerous plays. Fining a millionaire a measly $5,000 is nothing. It probably cost the Blackhawks more than that to have Boqvist examined by a doctor after the game.
Simply put, the league has to do better because otherwise, it is simply enabling dirty plays like the one that put Boqvist out the game last night against St. Louis.
Let us hear what you think, or alternatively, get in touch with NHL and let them know what you think.