NHL, Flyers Reactions to Dirty Hits a Mixed Bag

The NHL has made several announcements today regarding the incidents that took place during the Stanley Cup Quarterfinals Game Three between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Philadelphia Flyers.

Penguins forward Craig Adams has been suspended for one game and coach Dan Bylsma has been fined $10,000 for Adams’ “instigation” of the fight with Scott Hartnell at the 4:42 mark.

The suspension and fine are automatic for players who commit an instigator penalty with less than five minutes to play in the game. Dan Carcillo and former Flyers head coach John Stevens learned this the hard way in 2009 during the Quarterfinals Game One against Pittsburgh.

The NHL has also announced that an in-person hearing has been scheduled with Arron Asham as well as a two phone hearings with James Neal. Asham was responsible for cross-checking Brayden Schenn in the throat and then punching him in the head while he was down on the ice. Neal was responsible for  leaping shoulder first into the head of Sean Couturier when the puck was nowhere near him, and then attempted to do the same to Claude Giroux shortly thereafter.

In-person hearings usually result in multiple game suspensions. Asham is done.

Phone hearings could go either way. Neal is a repeat offender, so a suspension of one to two games wouldn’t be unheard of, but he is one of a handful of Penguins providing offense for their club right now. Schuyler Baehman, the NHL Senior Manager of Communications, announced via twitter that yesterday’s TV ratings were the best for a Quarterfinal game in eleven years and “the best for any non-Final playoff game in a decade.”

In other words, a ton of people watched Neal attempt to brain two previously concussed players.

There is a lot of pressure on Brendan Shanahan, the NHL’s Vice President of Hockey and Business Development and head disciplinarian, to get this one “right,” though the definition of that word depends on whether you live inside or out of the Pittsburgh city limits.

I would suspect Neal gets a one-game suspension and a $2,500 fine, but that’s just speculation.

At the other end of the ice, the Flyers’ coaching staff completely failed in their reaction to the hits on Schenn, Couturier and Giroux.

Ryan Lambert of the Yahoo blog Puck Daddy wrote an excellent piece about the current culture in the NHL with regards to concussions.  Which is to say, in spite of everything that has taken place around the league all year, nothing has changed.

He focused on the season of Flyers defenseman Marc-Andre Bourdon, who tried to play through a concussion earlier this year. He has missed Games Two and Three with an “upper body injury” that many suspect is yet another concussion.

Lambert wrote, “A player is a player, and a concussion is something that should be treated seriously regardless of whether it’s a star or a borderline NHL rookie.”

Lets recap.

Brayden Schenn was hit in the head at the 14:15 mark of the first period. He returned to the ice at the 16:15 mark, or two minutes later.

Sean Couturier was down on the ice after being hit with a considerable force from Neal at the 14:40 mark of the third period. He returned to the ice at the 16:19 mark, or one minute and thirty-nine seconds later.

Claude Giroux was hit by Neal at the 15:18 mark of the third period. He did not return.

Each of these players had missed time this season from a head injury, and yet two of them were thrown right back onto the ice. What happened to going to the “Quiet Room” for evaluation? What happened to player safety?

While every concussion is different, it’s well known that symptoms may not appear until several days after head trauma has been initiated. Just because a player says “I’m OK, coach” doesn’t mean that he’s OK.

It doesn’t matter that it’s the playoffs. It doesn’t matter how much these players want to win. The organization has a responsibility to pull them off the ice after a violent head collision and hold them out of the line-up until they can be properly evaluated.

Hopefully there will not be any future offseason reports that Flyers were hiding symptoms in order to keep playing. If anyone knows the futility and danger of walking down that path, its Ian Laperriere.

For the latest Flyers news and updates, you can follow me on twitter (@JoshJanet).

5 thoughts on “NHL, Flyers Reactions to Dirty Hits a Mixed Bag

  1. Good article. Open season on players heads when the game has been deciced should carry a severe penalty. Ashan and Neal should be suspended for the series.In the real world they would both ve charged criminally. Neal for his shot at the back of Giroux’s head

  2. Great article as usual JJ. These three turds need to be made example of & suspended for the remainder of the playoffs, regardless of how long it goes. Their blatant disregard for the other players wellbeing & their reckless, sore-loser play, could have ended Schenn’s, Giroux’s or Couturier’s careers. God forbid if this was done to Bettman’s houseboy Crosby. He would have probably disbanded the Flyers. It’s a disgrace, the blatant favoritism & protection that his team & he gets. The refs don’t even hide it. That game angered me so much the other night, I threw my remote against the wall & shattered it. It was old anyways. LOL!!! The best to happen, is we put them out of their misery, in game 4 on Weds & send them packing, with their tails between their legs, like the female Dirty Mutts that they are. BTW, I absolutely can’t stand Crosby & I want to knock all of his Buck teeth down his throat. Does that make me a bad person? LOL!!!

  3. My favorite cheap play through all this mess is as soon as the ref started to breK up giroux n crosby is when cindy threw 2 haymakers and immediately went down to the ice. Absolutely no class is what the pens r displaying! They should have supspensions for these guys that carry over to the next playoff year. So neal should get 2, asham 3, and if they lose wednesday, then they owe 2 PLAYOFF games next year. Otherwise, whenever the flyers have the clinching game in hand, they may think twice.

    What am i saying, its the penguins, what discilpline would they have to worry about, they do nothing wrong!

  4. Just because someone is hit in the head doesnt mean that they have a concussion. I cant recall Schenn’s but both G and cooters concussions were not the result of a big hit.

  5. Josh:

    Outstanding point, Josh. I hope these guys are truly alright. Nobody wants them to have this horrific problem into the future. I never thought of what you’re saying. Somebody needs to protect these guys…especially considering the litigation going on in pro sports from guys who towed the line, played great and are still suffering the terrible ramifications. Very impressive take on the game, that, again, I never thought about.

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