One of the biggest stories in the 2023 National Hockey League Stanley Cup Playoffs to date have been the suspensions. Since the Stanley Cup Playoffs started, five players have been suspended for separate incidents. The suspensions have gone to Michael Bunting of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Cale Makar of the Colorado Avalanche, Darnell Nurse of the Edmonton Oilers, Alex Pietrangelo of the Vegas Golden Knights and most recently to Jamie Benn of the Dallas Stars.
Normally the suspensions are justified, and in this case they were all were. However where the controversy lies is the number of games for each incident, and why some altercations in the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs did not warrant a suspension at all.
The suspensions to Benn, Pietrangelo and Nurse need to be analyzed. The incidents surrounding Nurse and Pietrangelo both happened in game four of the second round series between the Golden Knights and Oilers, a 4-1 Edmonton win on May 10. Nurse was given an automatic one game suspension for instigating a fight against Golden Knights defenseman Nicolas Hague in the final five minutes of the game. This is in the rule book, and the one game suspension was justified, even though it should not matter when a fight is taking place if the NHL is trying to get fighting out of the game.
What was absurd beyond belief was the fact that Pietrangelo’s vicious slash on Oilers superstar Leon Draisaitl only had a one game suspension. There have been slashes in hockey history that have been in the neighbourhood of 10 games, and for Pietrangelo to be disciplined for the same number of games as Nurse was ridiculous. It also should not have mattered if Draisaitl was hurt or not.
The NHL seemed to get it right for the two game suspension to Jamie Benn of the Dallas Stars for his cross-check on Golden Knights captain Mark Stone in game three of the Western Conference Finals. Then you need to ask was the Benn incident worthy of a larger suspension than the Pietrangelo incident, and the answer is absolutely not.
Finally, the NHL needs to be held accountable for one infraction in the Stanley Cup playoffs where there was no suspension at all. In game six of the first round, Jordan Eberle of the Seattle Kraken was responsible for a dangerous boarding incident where Andrew Cogliano of the Dallas Stars actually broke his neck. Why there was no suspension for Eberle here was completely bizarre.