The NHL has worked diligently to protect players from concussions, and “dirty play” that could cause untold havoc with a team’s roster and its playoff viability, if not controlled. .
It is almost cliche but ” hockey is indeed the fastest game on Earth”, and with puck flying at nearly 100 miles per hour and the force of a open ice check approaching the force of being hit by a speeding automobile; injuries are sure to happen.
The NHL, with a primary mission to build their audience and fill arenas has studied and created a office to handle player discretions.
The job of overseeing player discipline has evolved over time. Colin Campbell, a chippy player during his career first made an impact, followed by Brendan Shanahan and now Stephen Quintal. who was appointed Senior VP of Player Safety.
In his playing career, Quintal distinguished himself as a all-around defenseman during his 16 NHL seasons with the Boston Bruins, St. Louis Blues, Winnipeg Jets, Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers and Chicago Blackhawks,
He was Boston’s first-round selection (14th overall) in the 1987 NHL Entry Draft. The Boucherville, Quebec native., appeared in 1,037 NHL games, scoring 63 goals with 180 assists while compiling 1,320 penalty minutes.
Quintal served in that role on an interim basis since April 11, 2014, when Shanahan left his position as Senior Vice President of Player Safety to become the President of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Following an extensive evaluation process that included interviews with many qualified candidates,
NHL management decided that the objectives of the Department of Player Safety would be served best under Quintal’s leadership. The NHL has a valid point since stars like Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby, and Philadelphia defenseman Chris Pronger both experienced serious concussions. Pronger ended up retiring, never getting over his injuries.
This season prized rookie Connor McDavid along with Zach Parise, and Jordan Eberle have all been taken out of action due to injures negatively affecting their team.
The Winnipeg Jets Dustin Byfuglien will be visiting with the Player Safety office to discuss a check to the head incident that occurred last week against Brendan Gallagher. Big Buf has already been suspended once for four games for crosschecking JT Miller.
The Ottawa Senators Mark Stone was suspended for two games for a head check to Landon Ferraro.
The NHL has continued to evolve on its position about physical contact. There are several reasons that play into the leagues reconsideration. Equipment is stronger and reinforced with harder material, so body checks can do more damage at high impact points. Concussions are up and fighting is way down.
In the old time NHL Byfuglien and Stone would not even be discussed. The two time champion Philadelphia Flyers elbowed, slashed and speared their way to hockey immortality, but time have changed.
Now the whole team would be up in front of the Senior VP of Players Safety.