I’m having a hard time believing Anton Stralman of the Tampa Bay Lightning isn’t being suspended for his boarding penalty on Tom Wilson of the Washington Capitals.
It was a gift to the NHL’s Department of Player Safety to put the rumours to rest that they in fact are not biased toward Tom Wilson. Not that that’s why they should suspend anybody, but it would have been an extremely happy fringe benefit.
On top of that it would have suggested a consistent crack down on leaving your feet to throw a check, hitting from behind, and using your forearm to exert force to someone’s head, and just recklessness in general.
To me this is an obvious one or two gamer. BUT from a Department of Player Safety perspective….
Historically there is NO PROBLEM with leaving your feet on a check alone. Unless you make head contact or use excesssive force to the point it’s called a major penalty. Otherwise it’s just a minor penalty (either charging or, in this case, boarding), or “just a hockey play”.
There is NO PROBLEM with hitting someone from behind alone. Unless you make head contact or use excessive force to the point it’s called a major penalty. Otherwise it’s just a minor penalty (boarding) or “just a hockey play”.
There is NO PROBLEM with leading with the forearm alone. Unless you make head contact. Otherwise it’s just a minor penalty for roughing, or in most cases, “just a hockey play”.
This Stralman hit is one of those ones that’s optically bad (because it is, let’s make no mistake. It’s a terrible non-hockey hit) but happens once a week and no one bats an eye.
Tom Wilson has said if he had thrown this hit it would have gotten more attention. If Wilson and his supporters are being honest with themselves, they can realize that in this playoffs alone he and several of his teammates have already thrown this hit. Other teams have as well. It’s a league wide practice.
Unless there’s an injury, Player Saftey simply isn’t interested and in that, they’ve been remarkably consistent.