Through nine games of the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs, it’s exhausting to watch the Penguins night-in and night-out be subject to violent headshots and then take the high road and provide no comment on the situation, hoping that the NHL will do the right thing.
Claude Giroux’s “Collision”
Early in the opening round series with the Philadelphia Flyers, Kris Letang was taken out in a strange collision with Claude Giroux.
Scary moment in Flyers vs. Penguins as Giroux and Letang collide. pic.twitter.com/iCyhmnJtCH— NHL on NBC (@NHLonNBCSports) April 14, 2018
Carl Hagelin’s Presumably Broken Jaw
4 games later, Giroux, who did not receive any type of penalty on the play, took a run at Carl Hagelin, who has yet to return to play for the Penguins.
Carl Hagelin heads to the locker room after this hit from Claude Giroux. pic.twitter.com/zug4DW6C1v— NHL on NBC (@NHLonNBCSports) April 22, 2018
Tom Wilson Being Tom Wilson
Enter Tom Wilson and the Washington Capitals. No penalty on the play here. No supplemental discipline, deemed an “unavoidable hit.”
The Tom Wilson check to the head that sent Dumoulin to the room pic.twitter.com/cbRVMLBURo— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) April 29, 2018
The common theme of these three instances: Mike Sullivan would speak to the media following the game during his press conferences and be asked about the hits. His go-to during this situation is to say “i have thoughts on them, but I am not going to share them.” or something of that nature.
I understand why the Penguins want to take the high road, I really do. They don’t want to come across as whiners, they don’t want to be labeled a certain way, and they definitely don’t want to be fined by the National Hockey League.
We eventually would get some thoughts from Sullivan in due time.
Tom Wilson Surprisingly Still Being Tom Wilson
If you let Tom Wilson off the hook once, he will strike again — and he did.
Another hit to the head by Tom Wilson pic.twitter.com/PAiErjxNPF— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) May 2, 2018
The NHL had no choice this time. They blew it on the decision surrounding the hit on Dumoulin and they had to act.
Sullivan on ZAR: "We lose a guy to a broken jaw that's going to require surgery and a concussion because of another high hit to the head. At some point we would hope that the league might do something." -SK— Pens Inside Scoop (@PensInsideScoop) May 2, 2018
Wilson was suspended for 3 games, and you have to wonder how much Mike Sullivan’s comments and the revealing of the medical condition of Zach Aston-Reese had to do with it.
Maybe it’s currying a little favor with the league, maybe it’s a little sour grapes, but it can’t be easy to take the high road repeatedly when teams are out there running around and gunning for your players.
If we really want to have some fun, let’s have Jim Rutherford gather ‘round with the media folks, and let it fly. Go scorched earth on the NHL and the Department of Player Safety. Name names, lambast players like Tom Wilson who have no respect for their fellow players in the league, and defend your organization. No one wants to pay fines, but in this case, it might be worth it.