Last night, The Colorado Avalanche fought back in their best of 7 playoff series with the Nashville Predators - in a very big way. After jumping out to a 4-0 lead early in the second period, the Avalanche were rolling and looked able to show that they can make this a competitive series, even if most people had written them off.
Thanks to the lopsided nature of the first two periods, things got a lot more chippy than they had been. It was starting to look like a playoff series I which the two teams are building a legitimate rivalry. Unfortunately, that type of game often leads to plays that push the line of being dirty - or even cross that line.
One such play came late in the second period when Nathan MacKinnon took a pretty nasty forearm to the back of the head from Nashville defender P.K. Subban.
I absolutely love P.K. as a player and human being, but this is a really bad look for the All Star.
This is a tough one, even though they probably should, we know that the Department of Player Safety isn’t likely to suspend Subban for the play. Maybe they fine him - though I doubt that too. So of course, many fans are going to use the lack of supplementary discipline to justify this play as “not that bad”.
But it is.
Subban very clearly cocks back his forearm and targets MacKinnon’s head. It’s a play that didn't cause a head injury - but it very well could have. The NHL claims to want to limit head trauma and keep it’s players safe, failing to acknowledging the danger of this play does the exact opposite. MacKinnon has the puck, and instead of just playing his man like you’d expect, Subban goes at the head - the action was totally unnecessary.
“We used to be worried about headhunting and major things like that,” Parros told the media when he was introduced this past fall as the new head of the DoPS.
Used to be? Shouldn’t they still be?
This play is exactly that - head hunting. It didn’t result in an injury but that shouldn’t be what determines whether or not a player gets any supplemental discipline.
When asked about it after the game, Coach Bednar took the high road, and while he obviously didn’t like the play, he chalked it up to ‘playoff hockey’.
Nathan MacKinnon wasn’t hurt on the play so we know he won’t be suspended - the league only ever suspends the result, not the action. But at the very least the DoPS should announce that they are reviewing the play. That alone would send a message that they’re not ignoring head shots. Subban targeted his head, took a wild swing with his forearm and connected. It’s a dangerous play that should be acknowledged by the league - but we shouldn’t expect that it will.