It’s a not a perfect system, but Parros and the new Department of Player Safety are on the right track.
With concussions and CTE dominating the headlines over the past few years, every professional sports league has been under the microscope when it comes to head injuries.
Former NHL enforcer George Parros was appointed the head of the Department of Player Safety (DoPS) back in September. He’s facing with the daunting task of taking criticism for every professional decision he’s made.
But the most recent decision to suspend Boston Bruins forward Brad Marchand for 5 games for his elbow to the head of New Jersey Devils forward Marcus Johansson was the right message to the league.
Boston’s Brad Marchand suspended five games for elbowing New Jersey’s Marcus Johansson. https://t.co/yGnRiVHgNn
— NHL Player Safety (@NHLPlayerSafety) January 24, 2018
Fans and media members alike have criticized the DoPS for various incidents, but most agree that a message needed to be sent. Not just to Marchand, but the rest of the league as well.
Marchand has accumulated five total suspensions and three fines totalling over $270,000 in salary lost. Marchand is also considered a repeat offender under the latest collective bargaining agreement (CBA).
He’s been labelled a rat by many in hockey circles. Albeit a goal-scoring, world-cup-winning, all-star rat. But his blatant chicken-wing like cheap shot has no place at any level in the game.
Marcus Johansson already suffered a concussion this season. With the aforementioned focus on head injuries, Parros had to get this one right.
Now that the decision has been made, the DoPS will be under more pressure come the home stretch of the season and into the playoffs as the importance of each game only increases.
14 suspensions have been handed out in total so far this season. But if you ask certain fan bases, they’ll tell you that number should be higher.
Pending opt-outs by the NHL or the NHLPA, the current CBA is set to expire after the 2021-2022 season and there is no doubt that dealing with head injuries and suspension will be discussed.
A common argument amongst every hockey fan is whether a player should be suspended for as long as the other player is unable to play. The eye-for-an-eye mentality would outright eliminate cheap shots like the one Marchand gave to Johansson. But not all hits are intentional or alike.
Like any rule change, there would have to be a varying degree to the severity of the punishment. Parros and the rest of the DoPS should consider a heavier weight when head injuries occur, like in the latest incident.
For example, if we were to apply the Marchand/Johansson case to the proposed rule then Marchand can be suspended for however many games Marcus Johansson misses. I’m also suggesting the maximum games the suspended player can miss is ten, but you can be the judge if that is fair or not.
Of course, managing the grey area would be the biggest question. However, if that but it would take out the unnecessary plays that players, fans, coaches, managers and owners want out of the game.
It’s one of many issues the DoPS and the NHL have to keep their eye on. Another date to keep your eye on is February 11th. The Boston Bruins and New Jersey Devils play in Newark and it will Marchand’s 3rd game back from suspension.