The Future of NHL Department of Player Safety

By Liam Gill

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Since 2011 when Brendan Shanahan took over as the NHL’s chief disciplinarian, the League has seen a drastic change in Player Safety measures with fines and suspensions becoming a regularity in the league for both players and coaches. Last week, however, Shanahan abruptly left his position to join his childhood favourite Toronto Maple Leafs as their President and Alternate Governor. This sudden change has left his former department in limbo with no leader and an unclear direction. Nevertheless, with the playoffs underway this week, the department was forced to forge ahead and regulate the most physical and ruthless hockey games of the season.

On April 19, the NHL handed out two fines. One for $25,000 to Chicago Head Coach Joel Quenneville and one for $5,000 to Boston Bruins forward Milan Lucic. These fines show a clear disconnect between he league and common sense.

The fine to Joel Quenneville was handed out for the following action:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y6Tk_mIgL24

According to the NHL, a coach grabbing his crotch while arguing a call with an official is an offense worthy of a $25,000 fine. While it is the league’s decision to set such punishments for offenses, the role of the league is to keep the severity of the offense in proportion to the punishment something they clearly failed to do when fining Lucic $5,000 for this offense in Game 1 of their series against the Boston Bruins:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ioq2gp2pJu4

By the logic of the League, spearing an opponent in the crotch is 1/5th of the offense that grabbing your crotch is. While these terrible decisions can be blamed on the overturn, confusion and lack of management since the departure of Brendan Shanahan. The league will need to quickly reorganize and begin to regulate play as numerous first round series are quickly escalating beyond the control of on ice officials. Their next major assignment will be to assign an appropriate punishment to Brent Seabrook for this hit earlier today:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mSNtMDkRjBA

Stephane Quintal has a huge task ahead of him as he attempts to replace Brendan Shanahan and if he hopes to keep his new position past this season he will need quickly turn around his department as his current punishments are not on par with the standard set by his predecessor.