Darnell Nurse of the Edmonton Oilers has been suspended 3 games for his assault on San Jose Sharks player Roman Polak.
Make no mistake. An assault is exactly what this is. As an Oilers fan I have no problem saying that. Polak showed no intention of fighting back, and Nurse didn’t let off even a little bit.
Nurse was clearly the aggressor, some say because of the interference penalty Polak had just finished serving for a run in with Oilers forward Matt Hendricks. Whatever the reason, this “fight” quickly got out of hand only because of the actions of Nurse.
Under the instigator and agressor rules (46.2) combined with the fact that it was in the final five minutes, this should have been an automatic minimum one game suspension, and the league tacked on two more games which I’m kind of happy about.
What makes no sense though again is the random decision making of the Department of Player Safety.
As is the pattern this season, when a reviewable incident occurs, the same type of incident seems to happen twice more in quick secession.
A week ago, Max Domi of the Arizona Coyotes was recently given the automatic one game suspension I mentioned above, with no additional penalty imposed, even though what he did is possibly even worse than what Nurse did. Polak came at Nurse first (albeit unwittingly). Nurse just took unfortunate advantage of an opportunity. Any explanation of whether or not it was retaliatory for the interference is purely speculative.
Domi on the other hand had to chase Ryan Garbutt of Anaheim through the entire neutral zone in order to jump him, and all of it happened immediately after a clean hit by Garbutt in the final five minutes.
The only thing that prevented an injury was the fact that the linesmen jumped in more quickly, not because of a conscious decision by Domi to back off. In my mind, this was much more predatory, and if nothing else was the exact same, yet there were no extra games added on.
On Sunday New Jersey’s Jordan TooToo jumped Penguin Tom Sestito off a face off in the first period of their game. This is different in that it wasn’t the final five minutes, but it was the same in that TooToo continued to swing away on Sestito after it was clear Tommy Boy wasn’t a willing participant.
The Department Of Player Safety didn’t even bat an eye. Maybe because Sestito is considered a fighter?
As has been the case over and over again after suspensions this year, the players are left as unclear as ever on what the acceptable practice is, and what the consequences will be for wrong doing.