Belle: Eliminating checking from behind from the NHL

Photo credit:Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Liam Horrobin
1 year ago
The NHL is now knee-deep into its Stanley Cup playoffs. Now, ten days into the playoffs, the Department of player safety has handed out two suspensions.
The first came when Michael Bunting elbowed Erik Cernak in the head. Bunting was handed a match penalty for the hit and suspended for three games. Cernak has not played in the series since the hit occurred.
The other suspension happened to an unsuspected culprit in the Colorado Avalanche and Seattle Kraken series. Cale Makar finished his check on Jared McCann long after the puck left the ice surface. McCann left the game and has not returned to the series since. As for Makar, the Avalanche defenceman was handed a one game suspension.
Nobody in the Edmonton Oilers series versus the Los Angeles Kings has been suspended yet. However, there have been a couple of controversial hits from behind delivered by the Kings. The first came in game four when Adrien Kempe cross-checked Evan Bouchard from behind in overtime, launching him into the boards into a dangerous position. The second occurred in game five towards the end of the game after Sean Durzi cross-checked Warren Foegele close to the boards. Both players received two minutes; however, should there be more of a punishment for them?
Frank Seravalli from Daily Faceoff was on Oilersnation Everyday with Tyler Yaremchuk and gave his thoughts on the hit.
“Really, all you have to do in the playoffs is call it once, and the players get the message real quick. That is a real stern warning to everyone saying this stuff will not be tolerated, so don’t even think about it. Are they (NHL) watching it? Are they clipping it in terms of the Department of Players’ Safety standpoint? Of Course. I think they see it.”
Earlier in the week, former NHLer Shawn Belle gave his two cents on the separate incidents.
“If he grabs him and guides him into the boards, you are probably more comfortable saying that was a legitimate hockey play. You can see he (Warren Foegele) is about to make a move, and he (Sean Durzi) cross-checks him directly in the back. That is the stuff right there, especially because it is two feet away from the wall. That area is where serious injuries can happen, and you have to take it out of the game. Rewind back years ago, and we saw a similar incident versus the Anaheim Ducks. It does not need to be part of the game.”
It has now been two games in a row the Kings have caught an Oiler in a vulnerable position. Will they make it three in a row? We will have to wait and see what happens on Saturday. For now, we can debate if this hit needs to be eliminated from the game.
The NHL has done a good job of protecting its players, for the most part, from headshots. Players were punished accordingly for a few years, and now the situation has balanced itself. Perhaps checking from behind is the next one they clamp down on.

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