The NHL’s Department of Player Safety has confounded us many times in the past, but the decision to not suspend Dustin Brown will end up being the biggest mistake the League has made this decade.
A cross check by Brown of the Los Angeles Kings to Pittsburgh Penguins defenceman Justin Schultz did earn him a 5:00 major and a game misconduct for boarding. The officials got it right. Player Safety then fined him $10,000.00 for cross checking, and that shows they got it dead wrong.
Schultz was down on his knees and sliding, always defenceless, always with his back to Brown. The probability of making this check safely was minimal at best. Not that it was even needed. If Brown felt he had to do something, all he had to do was stand over Schultz and not let him get up.
Take a step back here and think about what actually happened. A person was sliding precariously on his knees slowly and safely but with no real way to control his speed or direction. A second adult person decided the best idea was to take a long stick into two hands and shove this already out of control person in the back forcefully from behind guiding him completely in the direction of a solid wall. And not even just in the back, but specifically the upper back, across the shoulder blades, all but guaranteeing his victim’s head would be the very first thing to smash said solid wall. He pushed so hard as to lose his own balance and stumble over his victim’s crumpled form. He had plenty of time to make a different choice and didn’t. He also has zero remorse and is delusional about what he did:
“I’m going to close on him and he stumbles, toe picks,” Brown said.
“I don’t drive him through the wall or anything, but I also close in on the play. At the most it’s probably a two(-minute minor), I think.”
The on ice officials nailed it. This isn’t just a cross check. Any analysis of this hit should include the standard terms such as “predatory” (not a hockey play) and “targeting the head” (acting in such a way as to make the head the principle point of contact with the boards). This was boarding at its finest and most dangerous.
I can’t wait to see how many copy cat cross checks there are this playoffs and as always, with this $10,000.00 standard set, the league won’t be able to justifiably do a thing about them.
According to my suspension scale, I would have suspended Dustin Brown 6 games for boarding. Instead, the NHL is begging to keep the lawsuits coming.