NHL Players Forced To Fight After Making Clean Hit Shouldn’t Face Penalties

Braden Schneider, a defenseman for the Rangers, delivered a perfectly timed (and perfectly legal) shoulder-to-chest blow that qualified for the full Madden treatment (Boom!) on Nick Paul, the center for the Lightning, as Paul attempted to enter the offensive zone, and Ross Colton jumped Schneider as a result. Read More
Paul unleashed his inner Batman with a resounding “Splat!” in the waning seconds of the second period during Wednesday’s throwback game at the Garden. It’s become a sick norm in the modern NHL for players who land clean hits to have to defend themselves against whiners on the other team.
As a result, 21-year-old Schneider was compelled to fight Colton, despite the fact that he appeared to be thoroughly enjoying himself. Chris Rooney and Tom Chmielewski, the referees, made the correct call by giving Colton a 2-plus-10 penalty for instigation and the same 5:00 penalty for fighting that Schneider received. The regulation was applied correctly.
The norm, however, ought to be altered. Players who defend themselves in a battle should face no repercussions even if their opponent scores a clean hit. Schneider’s insubordination consisted of what, exactly? His refusal to submit to a physical punishment
The general managers met around the end of last month to talk about this outbreak, but they didn’t come up with a solution. Some people didn’t see it as a big deal.
There were 271 total bouts, and 89 of them started with a legal hit. The officials handed out 21 instigator penalties when 89 were warranted. However, officials’ primary goal is game management rather than rule interpretation. Their approach tends to be a zero-sum game. I don’t know who prompted them.
But if you ask me—aand I know Gary Bettman and the Board are—tthe first step is forgiveness for players who fight after being compelled to retaliate after delivering a clean blow. Whether or not a provocateur is called, this will still occur. That would guarantee a five-minute man advantage at the very least.
This might potentially buck the trend.
So, let’s go back in time to the last week of the 1988–89 NHL season. If selected first in the draft, Mats Sundin would be available. There wasn’t even a draft lottery system in effect until 1995. In this case, being last meant being first.
The Islanders, out of a possible 21, were comfortably in 21st place with a week and four games remaining. With 55 points to Quebec’s 61, they were “ahead” of the Nordiques by six.
Two of the next three games were won by the Islanders, while the Nordiques dropped all three. One was in extra time, although that was back when the rules were more progressive and there were no loser’s points. The Islanders maintained a two-point lead for last or first with one game remaining, and Quebec held the tiebreaker.
They only needed to lose the final game of the season at the Garden. The Rangers, of course, were a mess. General manager Phil Esposito was in charge of the team after replacing the fired Michel Bergeron.
Despite the Islanders’ (little) desperation, the Rangers’ disarray proved too much to overcome. (of which there was much). Islanders 6, Blueshirts 4, final Islanders take three of the last four.
While the Nordiques’ loss in Buffalo extended their winless skid to four games,
Results: Quebec has 61 points and 27 wins, while the Islanders have 61 points and 28 wins.
The winners gave the prizes to the losers.
Sundin, 1st in the League.
David Chyzowski placed second overall.
Think of the outrage if something like this happened now.
By the way, Bill Torrey was still the Islanders’ general manager.
And then there are the present Ducks, who are now in last place (behind Chicago and Columbus on the tiebreaker) after a nine-game losing streak in regulation time during which they scored a grand total of 14 goals heading into their match in Arizona on Saturday night. There will be three games played at home.
How much of a rebuild is going to be put on hold in Washington so that Alex Ovechkin can try to break Wayne Gretzky’s NHL record for goals scored in a career?
Up until Saturday, Ovechkin had scored 42 goals this season, putting him 72 goals short of The Great One’s 894. For the next two seasons at least, the Capitals may avoid being the only NHL team to prioritize the name on the back of the jersey over the emblem on the front of the jersey by submitting to the Putinista.
Although the playoffs are still to come, I think Alex Georgiev has already validated his long-held personal belief and declaration that he could be a No. 1 if given the chance.
The goaltender has emerged from the shadows of Henrik Lundqvist and Igor Shesterkin to help lead the defending champion Avalanche to first place despite the team’s health woes, going 10-2 with a 2.15 GAA and a.919 save percentage over their last 12 games.
At least the NHL has never seen a team intentionally waste a season in order to ensure a top-10 draft pick like the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks just did.
To be fair, the Mets may have blown it with their home opener sponsor patch, but no NHL team has ever done so.

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