The NHL Department of Player Safety had a busy day yesterday. At a time when the focus should be on the season that is starting Wednesday the league office was instead busy doling out discipline.
Monday, NHL Player Safety announced that San Jose Shark forward Raffi Torres will be suspended 41 games for a hit to the head of Anaheim Ducks forward Jakob Silfverberg. One thing is for certain; the NHL is making a statement. They viewed Torres as a repeat offender even though he has not been in trouble within the last 18 months.
This is huge. When I first saw the news I thought it said 14 games and I thought that was about right. Then I looked at it again and really could not believe that the NHL would do that. Do not get me wrong Torres is a dirt bag and he probably deserves everything he gets, but 41 games. Wow!
I did not think the hit was that bad. Granted the only video (below) that I have seen of it is full speed, so it is hard to really tell where the initial point of contact was. Certainly his shoulder rides up, but it was no Matt Cooke hit on Marc Savard (Cooke was not suspended for the hit). Torres did take a good long run at Silfverberg though, and I am sure that factored intonit. Another reason why the 41 games was so shocking was Silfverberg was not injured on the play.
This was clearly the NHL making a statement to guys like Torres that they are not going to put up with it anymore and if you are a repeat offender you are going to pay significantly.
Another black eye on the NHL today was Montreal Canadian forward Zack Kassian getting into a car accident in the early morning which resulted in broken nose and broken foot. To make things worse for Kassian was he must have been under the influence of something because he was placed in Stage Two of the Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program (SABH), by the NHL and NHLPA. This means it is not the first time for Kassian. While Kassian is in rehab he will not be paid and he is suspended until he completes the program.
The Canadians will be without one of their big off season pickups for a yet to be determined amount of time. The Canadians organization cannot be pumped, but Kassian’s salary does come off the cap while he is suspended. The Bruins were rumored at one point eyeing Kassian when he was in Vancouver. He is big and has the first round pedigree, but has not put it together in the NHL. I am sure the Canadians were hoping he would in Montreal. He is not off to a good start.
The other bad press that the NHL got today was reported by Bleacher Report that the NHL acknowledges that cocaine use is on the rise. The NHL and NHLPA are negotiating adding cocaine to the banned substance list. NHL deputy commissioner, Bill Daly said, “The number of [cocaine] positives are more than they were in previous and they’re going up.”
My question to the NHL and NHLPA, how is cocaine not on their banned substance list. From my understanding the NHL has a pretty laid back drug policy and the general public usually does not hear of a player failing a test. They get put into the SABH program at stage 1. The only reason why we heard about Zack Kassian is because he has been moved to stage 2. We as fans very rarely hear about a player testing positive for any performance enhancer, or other drugs, but there might be a reason for that. Maybe the NHL does not want you to know.
When it comes to bad press for leagues the NHL has definitely received their fair share over the past few months. Jarret Stoll getting arrested in Vegas for cocaine possession, Slava Voynov beating his wife then going to jail and volunteering to be deported, Patrick Kane and his rape scandal, Mike Richards being arrested at the Canadian Border with Oxy, and the best one from the summer Ryan O’Reilly driving into a Tim Horton’s cafe drunk because sometimes you just need some late night donuts. NHL players may not have as many run ins with the police as the NFL, but there has been a lot more than we have seen in the past. At least an NHL player did not murder multiple people, that would be the last thing they need right now.
It was not all bad news for the NHL yestetday. Jaromir Jagr announced that he is bringing the mullet back this season. Men in South Florida might want to hide their wives, and girlfriends because Jagr is back.