When you’re a child, it’s your parents’ or caregivers’ job to tell you that, no, you can’t actually whack your sibling with a stick. In the NHL, in the brave new world of the 21st century, someone has to have a gruesome injury so gross only ten year olds want to see the video, for the league to crack down on whacking a guy’s hands with your stick.
This is the elephant in the room, the NHL has decided they can see after all.
In the first pre-season game, LA vs Vancouver, there were four slashing penalties, two for each team.
In Sunday’s games there were more. The Flyers played the Islanders at an offsite game so there is no game sheet, but Broadstreet’s recap lists three slashing calls and one delayed penalty on a slash that resulted in a goal.
The Vegas - Vancouver game on Sunday evening was slash - whistle, slash - whistle, slash - whistle. The Canucks are slow learners on this new way of doing things. The total slashing calls were 5 -1 for Vancouver.
In all of these games, the calls predominated in the first and second periods, so the plan seems to be to beat the players over the head with the idea that you can’t, well, hit guys on the hands whenever you like.
Lest you think this is an NHL problem, two Swedes, Philip Holm and Adrian Kempe were penalized twice each for the infraction. So lazily lolling along behind a guy and one-arm swinging your stick, or two-hand axe chopping if you’re really trying to smash all those small bones, is a world-wide phenomenon.
There will be outrage over this. And as the Vegas game shows, a smart team full of fast young players who don’t need to use such methods aren’t going to get called, so there will be no “evening up” the power plays.
I can already feel the groundswell of complaints — when it’s your team called that is. But it’s just the pre-season, the games don’t matter, and the guy swinging his stick and going to sit down for it is showing the coach he’s either lazy or gets out of position too easy or is tired of being checked hard (see Crosby v Methot). So showing himself up for what he is, is fine with me.
If you’re aiming at the wrist or hands of a player, and you take two in the box for it? I say: