The last time I checked a human head sits on top of the shoulders. In the game of hockey there is going to be inadvertent contact to a players head when checking is involved.
At the same time I am not here to say Backes hit on Frans Neilson was clean. It was late. Interference all day if you want. But your standard head shot, it was not. The shoulder of Backes catches Neilson’s chin after the principle point of the initial contact was the shoulder/chest area.
Should Backes have received a penalty? Yup, absolutely.
Should Backes have received supplemental discipline? Yup, maybe a fine.
Was the hit unnecessary? Yup. There was no need for it on the play. But a suspension? Really?
Right when the hit happened I text fellow BostonPucks.com writer David Wayne about the hit. See our exchange below:
Since we all can agree that the hit was unnecessary it’s pretty clear the problem is the resulting 3 game suspension Backes received. Simply put, there is no consistency with the Department of Player Safety. There never has been. There may never be.
Brad Marchand, who has a history with the DOPS, was suspended 5 games for a flying elbow to Marcus Johansson’s head. Johansson who has a history of concussions has still yet to play.
David Backes has no history with the DOPS. He had a whopping 0.0 suspensions total during his previous 800+ career NHL games. And he has largely been regarded a model NHLer. So obviously he should get 3 games for a first time offender who threw a late hit where he catches the players chin, right? Unreal.
Remember the hit Backes took in Buffalo? Backes had dumped the puck into the offensive zone and the puck was well off his stick when the Buffalo player “finished” his check. Backes was bent over from the follow through of the dump in and took the hit directly to his head. He left the game and did not return. Did the Buffalo player get a penalty? Nope. Did he get any supplemental discipline? Nope.
And what about Hornqvist’s deliberate kill shot on Charlie McAvoy recently:
0 games handed out for that.
Are we at the point where players are going to get automatically suspended regardless when they commit a penalty if the other player gets hurt. By that stupid trending logic Brendan Gallagher of the Canadiens would get suspended for the play on McAvoy that hurt his knee.
Yes, that is a stretch, but the point is just because the player was hurt on the play does not always mean their should be suspendable supplemental discipline. Can you imagine how long Zdeno Chara would be suspended in today’s NHL for his turnbuckle hit on Max Pacioretty?
Listen George, I like your clothing line and I thought you were going to do great things running DOPS, but come on man let’s have some consistency. That is all I ask for. I’m not trying to blindly defend Backes’ actions but it feels like in DOPS office you throw a dart at the wall and whatever it lands on is what is handed out for discipline.
Follow us on Twitter @BostonPucks and let’s talk hockey.