The Sports Daily > Days of Y'Orr
The Hypocrisy of the NHL Department of Player Safety

Please Note: I agree with the NHL on their ruling of Shawn Thornton's incident involving Brooks Orpik. If you are unable to get past that first sentence, there's an X at the top of the screen you can press. Although I love Thornton, there's nothing you can say that will justify the actions that he did to Orpik. Nothing. 

Today the NHL handed down a 15 game suspension to Shawn Thornton for his actions against Brooks Orpik. There are many, many who believe that 15 games is an outrage and have openly stated that they believe the punishment should be less or more. 

I'm not here to argue the validity of the 15 game suspension, though I have no problems with it. I'm here to talk about the hypocrisy that is the NHL Department of Player Safety and how inconsistent their suspensions have been. 

After the jump, let's bring the fire…

David Clarkson:
Today David Clarkson was suspended 2 games for this elbow:

Take what you want from that, but it's clear to me that Clarkson makes the point of contact to be Sobotka's head. Here's my issue with all of this. This is Clarkson's second suspension of the season, making him a repeat offender under the current CBA. 

So my question is this: How does a repeat offender, one that was suspended for 10 games this season only get two for a head shot? Let's call a spade a spade here folks, it was a shot to the head. 

James Neal
Suspended five games for kneeing Brad Marchand

Neal got 5 games for kneeing Marchand in the head, which occured the same night Thornton jumped Orpik. Under the current CBA, Neal is not a repeat offender because his last offense did not occur within 18 months of this one. Shanahan states that he took Neal's history (1 other suspension, 1 fine) of hits into account and suspended him "accordingly". 

While I'm not going to go into the complete history of the Department of Player Safety's suspensions, I want to know if the NHL is actually serious about not only ending an incident that Thornton was involved in, but also ending dirty hits and things of this nature. 

Everyone is saying that the NHL is making an example out of Shawn Thornton, that it will deter this type of on ice stuff – but are these incidents the problem? How many times a year do we see a Thornton/Orpik incident actually occur? One? Maybe two? 

Instead we watch countless headshots, whether it is knees or elbows or boarding, get dolled out every year and minimal suspensions are the reward. This includes suspensions to guy who have been suspended in the past for dirty hits like Clarkson and Neal and Patrick Kaleta. 

If the NHL wants to make a real statement these headshots, which have caused numerous concussions and have ended careers, the 15 game suspensions as well. 

The sad thing is that if Thornton lined Orpik up and elbowed him in the head or went knee-on-knee his suspension would have been much, much less than it is now. That's where the hypocrisy in all this lies. A concussion is a concussion is a concussion, but the way it's delivered is the only issue. 

The NHL Department of Player Safety doesn't care about the safety of the players much like the players don't have respect for one another. What Brendan Shanahan did was do his best to quiet the media/fans/etc. His recent ruling on a first time offender, enforcer or not, is soaking wet in hypocrisy.