Questionable calls are going to happen in the NHL, something Las Vegas fans will have to get used to. Suspensions on the other hand, NHL fans tend to take their anger out on the wrong people. Take for instance Bruins forward David Pastrnak, and the two-game suspension he was slapped with for an illegal check to the head on Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi.
If you heard Boston sports radio yesterday, then you would’ve thought Girardi roughed up Pasta. That’s Pastrnak’s nickname by the way, and not a bad one I may add. Even the Bruins management complained about the NHL Department of Player Safety’s decision to suspend the young Czech. But shouldn’t the B’s and their fans be angry with Pastrnak? He contacted Girardi’s head, not the league. It makes it difficult for the NHL to punish head hunters if the team gets publicly upset.
Player safety isn’t getting any softer, and if you ask me that’s a good thing. The NY Post examined Pastrnak’s hit and agreed with the two-game suspension. What the Post didn’t agree with was the two-minute minor Pasta had to serve. If the hit is worthy of a two-game league benching, why did the Bruins forward only serve a minor penalty? The NCAA has a rule that any hit to the head or neck is an automatic major penalty. It’s not far fetched to see the NHL adopt a rule like that to further protect players.
As a new fan base, Knight fans might not be as animated about a penalty as lunatic fans in other cities. However, plenty of questionable calls will get booed by Las Vegas fans. What’s the line, “the 17,000 paying officials disagree with the call.” We’ll get plenty of that at the T-Mobile Arena. Fans will get upset with officials if a call is bad or missed. Hopefully, they’ll understand when a ref is forced to call a major because of a dangerous hit.
The NY tabloid also wrote about the NHL being accused of not taking head injuries seriously enough. The suspension on Pastrnak seemed like a routine review for me, not an overreaction by the NHLDOPS. When play starts next season on the Strip it’s possible the rules regarding hits to the head could change. They could be even more strict, and suspensions could come down harder. The NHL Department of Player Safety is trying to protect players. Something that players, teams, and fans should all appreciate.
Don’t blame Player Safety for coming down hard on players, blame the players for putting each other in jeopardy.