Back in January 2018, Dustin Brown of the Los Angeles Kings cross checked Pittsburgh Penguin Justin Schultz and was ejected with a 5:00 major penalty and a game misconduct. The NHL’s Department of Player Safety decided to only give Brown a fine.
In my analysis of the incident I said “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.
It’s actually only taken less than five months.
Here in June, in the Stanley Cup Final, it’s gotten more than a little out of hand. In fact, it’s so out of hand that the only cross check anyone has cared about has been the Reaves Game One cross check to the back of John Carlson that allowed him to score the game tying goal. I mean, people were absolutely losing their minds about the injustice. The officials were obviously warned to crack down on cross checking in front of the net for positional battles, as evidenced by a penalty to Vegas in Game Two for a fairly mild version of the same thing.
As amazing as it was that it took a goal scored off a mild cross check to finally get this under the microscope, at least I thought they’d be cracking down consistently. Instead, we’ve had more instances than ever that have gone completely uncalled.
Reaves cross checks Orlov and there’s apparently nothing wrong with that, so Wilson comes in to return the favor with a cross check of his own, but Reaves beats him to the punch with some sweet chin music. At least the third one was a penalty (although nothing from the DOPS). Then there’s this:
Hard to blame Oshie here. Hits from behind have been another big problem this series and with cross checking not being called, what a good way to defend or stand up for yourself. That’s what these guys both thought, too.
Tom Wilson wasn’t too happy with James Neal, so why not come at his face? You may be able to knock someone out of the series and all you’ll have to serve is two minutes. Neal had other ideas mind you, because with players expecting high cross checks as acceptable practice, you have to plan accordingly. Neal blocked this one and delivered a pretty good elbow drop for good measure.
Evgeny Kuznetsov wasn’t that keen on a flying forearm to the head from Brayden McNabb that took him out of Game Two. Here he saw his chance for revenge with, you guessed it, the cross check. And if you’re going to cross check somebody, why not to the head? If Reaves can do it for Vegas, Kuznetsov can do it for Washington. As a bonus, he didn’t even take a penalty let alone hear so much as a whimper from the DOPS.
Finally, there’s this display of two Vegas players looking like the old WWF tag team champions Axe and Smash.
I agree they do need to crack down on the little positional cross checks, but not those ONLY. In that article on the Brown incident from January, I also said “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.” We’ve had too many to count already, and we’re nowhere near done. Someone is going to be seriously injured before the Cup is handed out.