Last night, a frustrated Avalanche responded in a big way to the Kraken’s Game 4 and 5 efforts and decisively won Game 6, as we previously covered. During the course of this game, Jordan Eberle threw a dangerous hit against Colorado’s Andrew Cogliano, which ended in him missing a couple of shifts, but ultimately finishing the game. Eberle was penalized on the play.
…Which makes the following information all the more baffling, as it turns out Andrew Cogliano will not be playing in Game 7, as the Avs forward suffered a fractured neck on the play.
This has brought to light (and right fully so) the inconsistent standard of officiating and discipline set by NHL player safety, as Cale Makar threw an equally dangerous hit against Jared McCann and received discipline for it, but it appears that Eberle will not receive any supplemental discipline for his hit.
Opening a can of worms we open every year…and then do nothing with.
Player Safety’s consistent inconsistency
Yesterday, during our recap, I said that I didn’t expect that Jordan Eberle would receive any secondary discipline, and was flippant in criticism of the hit. For that, I would like to apologize for being rude about that here; I was working with incomplete information and made assumptions that were equally as reckless.
Watching it in the moment and in subsequent watches, Eberle’s hit was both exceptionally dangerous and supremely idiotic for such a talented player to throw, only compounded by the fact he put his team at a disadvantage and as we learned later, seriously injured Cogliano. There was no need for that, and he went ahead with it anyway instead of doing any number of better maneuvers available to him to get the puck back. He probably should’ve received a hearing.
On the other hand, I didn’t think Eberle was going to receive discipline because NHL Player Safety is notoriously inconsistent with how it metes out discipline, and doubly so in the NHL playoffs. I estimated that in Player Safety’s eyes, they would have seen Eberle’s hit as exceptionally dangerous but otherwise penalized as called, and given that Cogliano against all odds (and frankly, good sense.) returned, and that was that for them.
Does that at all make up for Cogliano needing serious medical attention? Does it even make sense given the standard set in this series for late, bad, reckless hits? Or even this year’s playoffs?
Obviously not, but that’s the point; there is no standard, and that’s a huge problem.
Without a standard of discipline; and there is no consistency, and now everyone feels angry and a little gross about how it got handled.
The Questions never asked or answered.
Both teams now have to play a Game 7 down a player thanks to separate but reckless decisions that were inconsistently disciplined, with their seasons on the line. If either side does something like it again, I’d be shocked if they escaped discipline again due to the overwhelmingly negative response this decision has generated. But it’s a hell of the Department of Player Safety’s own making: they simply leave too many questions unanswered in-between rulings that drive fans crazy.
- Why is a well-known rule of thumb of “the playoffs mean less games for bad hits” at all acceptable?
- What made Makar’s hit so much worse, proximity to the puck?
- What factored into these decisions; the hit itself, or the results of it?
Those three are just the start of a million different questions about head hits, clear exceptions made for certain players for their bad behavior, how majors get downgraded to minor penalties…the ones up there are just at the top of the list right now. Even worse, there’s no guarantee we’ll ever get an explanation on why.
It frays people’s trust in the rules being enforced fairly, and obviously frustrates them when their team is on the wrong side of it.
In the meantime, let’s just hope that Cogliano is able to make a full recovery, and that he can make a return to the ice when he’s 100% medically cleared to do so.
Game 7 is at 6:30pm PT.
Let’s try to keep this one safe.