Last night in Boston, Massachusetts the NHL got it wrong… again. When at the end of the second period Boston’s Charlie McAvoy took a deliberate run at Columbus’s Josh Anderson. The contact McAvoy made was strictly to the head. His path to the player was completely devoid of anything resembling a defensive play. He was trying to hurt Anderson, he was trying to silence one Columbus’s best players.

 

At the point of the infraction the score was one to nothing Boston. However anyone watching could tell you Boston was on their heels, and that Columbus was about to break through. That’s when Charlie McAvoy made a conscious decision to attempt to take out one of the most impactful players up to that point.

Josh Anderson was all over the ice last night. He and Pierre Luc Dubois were giving Boston all they could handle. Getting pucks deep, bagning bodies, blocking shots, and generating havoc. The pair had basically eliminated Torey Krug and David Pasternak from the game. So when McAvoy targeted Andersson it changed the entire dynamic of the game.

There was a meeting on the ice after the McAvoy hit in which the officials deliberated what they should issue as a penalty. The announcers and the rest of the hockey world knew that it needed to match the severity of the penalty as was dished out to Cody Eakin in game seven in San Jose. Instead the officials played it safe and gave McAvoy a two minute minor for “Illegal Check to the Head.”

So the officials acknowledged that it was an illegal hit to the head, but they feel like it wasn’t enough to warrant a five minute penalty and ejection form the game.

Am I nuts? How can you only hit someone in the head a little?

nuts

You either make an illegal check to the head or you don’t. The fact that that penalty can be a two minute minor is insane. It was at that moment the Columbus Blue Jackets gave up. Knowing they were not going to catch a break Columbus packed up their bags and put Bobrovsky and Panarin on a plane to Florida.

It’s a shame that now in two series the NHL’s officials have made such glaring errors in judgement that negatively impacted an entire series. Why does this keep happening? How can the officials get these major moments in games so wrong? This problem needs corrected immediately before we have another Brett Halls skate was in the crease moment like we did in 1999.

In soccer and football they are giving officers a chance to review the play to make sure they get the call right. I understand this slows the game down, but with two egregious calls like this it’s hard to ignore that as a real possibility.

There is also a deeper topic that needs to be brought up about hits to the head. In the NCAA any contact to the head is immediately a five minute major and a game misconduct. Why is that rule not applied to the NHL? We know enough now that head trauma is serious and that it will negatively impact players for the rest of their lives. So take it out of the game.

Hockey is the best sport, its fast, physical, and exciting. However the NHL is the worst of all professional sports league by a country mile. A first step in a new direction would be to make sure they always get the call right. The second and more important step is to actually care about the safety of their players.

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Written by Johnny Violence

The lead NHL/Hockey writer for Thoughts From The Bench.

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