May 20, 2011

Pucks On The 'Net: NHL Wrong On Eager

The NHL is missing the boat by not suspending Ben Eager.

The NHL needs to discipline players for intent, not for outcomes. Eager clearly intended to hurt Daniel on that play. Following the Bieksa/Marleau fight, Eager was going berserk on the bench. Then seconds into his first subsequent shift, he's charging a defenseless NHL's scoring champion and potential MVP from behind and face first in to the glass. He had a chance to let up, but no he took a couple of extra steps. It is a small miracle that Daniel, who has a history of minor back problems, was not hurt on that play.

The referee should have immediately called a 5 minute major and game misconduct. That would have eliminated all of Eager's other embarrassing actions in that game (mind you, by showing everyone what a boob he really is, he took his team completely out of the game) Though Daniel Sedin was not hurt, that should not be a factor in further discipline.

If Raffi Torres' late season hit on Jordan Eberle is worth 4 games (including 2 in the playoffs), then Eager deserves at least a 1 game playoff suspension.

If this was 25 years ago, I don't think the NHL would stand for Paul Baxter doing the same to Wayne Gretzky. Somehow in that time frame the NHL has failed to protect it's star players. And that's bad for everyone, especially us fans.

Here's a few other quick notes:
  • The refereeing in this series has been pretty bad in this series, but you don't hear many Vancouver fans saying that because so far it has been the Canucks benefiting . Outside of the Eager incident, it is the Canucks getting off with missed calls (Henrik's high stick on Thornton) and receiving some power plays on marginal calls. 
  • A word of caution for those who think this series is over. These playoffs have shown time and time again that comebacks are in fashion. San Jose's power play is red hot (3 for 4 in the series) and should they get a couple more attempts at home, they could easily head back to Vancouver with the series tied up at 2 games apiece. 
  • Mind you, San Jose's PP has struggled at home this playoffs, going just 3 for 29.
  • The Canucks job this May long weekend is to get a split in California. Though they went 2-0 in San Jose in the regular season, that may not be easy. Roberto Luongo has struggled in San Jose. He's 0-2-1 in his last three games there, and did not play a single game in San Jose this season. Cory Schneider played both games, winning each by a goal.
  • Something's got to give though. San Jose's too god of a team to keep struggling like this. They have lost 5 of their past 6 games, being outscored 23-15. Furthermore, San Jose has lost 8 straight CF games, 1 away from tying the record (BOS and CHI)
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Joe said...

Totally agree that Eager should have been tossed. Very similar hit to one Milan Lucic threw on Jaroslav Spacek with no suspension. In a year where Sidney Crosby has sat out the playoffs and Pacioretty had a broken neck I think it will take a death or a paralysis before they smarten up

Robert L said...

The thing is folks, intent cannot be proven, otherwise Chara would've sat for at least ten, and they obviously don't always punish the result, as again Chara would've done time. The NHL plays a shell game with these issues, moving their points and biases to suit their cause. The league has to be put out of the supplementary discipline business to let an impartial board judge each call.