The black box that is the NHL’s reasoning for all things “Player Safety” continues to be a study in unaccountability and unfathomability.

By now, Avalanche fans have seen the video of the Gabe Landeskog cross-check to the side of poor, innocent Matthew Tkachuk, the one that was deemed dastardly enough to warrant a four-game suspension. A cross-check to a guy’s head is a serious matter, according to the Kangaroo Court that is the NHL’s Department of Player Safety, so Landeskog’s punishment was just and right and should serve as a deterrent to others from doing the same thing. Now, I want you to take a look at this video of something Patrick Kane of the Chicago Blackhawks did two nights after Landeskog’s foul deed.

Patrick Kane, one of the star faces of the NHL from one of the NHL’s biggest markets, nonetheless cross-checked Nashville’s Kevin Fiala right in the face here. Right in the face, a two-handed slam with his stick. It sure looked premeditated to me, especially since Kane had just cross-checked another Preds player right before that.

Now, since the NHL had already fined Kane the princely sum of $5,000 for this two-handed baseball swing to the back of Nick Ritchie’s leg the game before against Anaheim, welll…no doubt NHL director of the Department of Player Safety George Parros would realize this guy has a bit of a history already and dole out some even more serious supplemental discipline. After all, the people at DoPS get very offended when questioned whether they play favorites or not with marquee guys. It doesn’t happen, they say. Everyone is treated equally, for the good of the game!

Patrick Kane, therefore, was given the very stiff sentence of….nothing, for his cross-check to the face of the lesser-heralded Kevin Fiala. Zip. Zilch. Nada. No suspension, no $5,000 fine even to the guy who makes (not making this up here folks) $42,000 for every period he plays in 82 regular-season hockey games for Chicago. Now, Fiala appeared to be injured but kept playing and, well, but doctors will also tell you that, while a guy may keep on playing after something like that, the effects of concussion often don’t show up until days or weeks later. Probably why they were so concerned for Tkachuk, after all. Can’t just base everything on whether a guy is immediately injured or not.

Patrick Kane can just go right on playing hockey. The NHL reportedly “took a look at” the cross-check to the face of Kevin Fiala (big of them wasn’t it?), but deemed it unworthy of further discipline. Move on, folks, nothing to see here.

Landeskog, meanwhile, had to sit out the second of his four-game banishment Friday night against the New Jersey Devils. That terrible, vicious cross-check to the head of Tkachuk, who always plays the game clean, don’t you know and didn’t embellish after the Landeskog cross-check at all, must still be atoned for. The people who shelled out $60 a pop or higher to the game, who pay to see stars such as the captain Landeskog? Well, too bad for them, but it’s OK because, remember, the NHL Department of Player Safety doesn’t play favorites with anyone, and justice is justice and fans just have to know that it’s for the overall betterment of the sport.

The Avalanche needed all the big, talented players it could get against a very good, big, young and fast Devils team. Landeskog was just the kind of guy they needed in what finished a 2-1 Avs loss.

They didn’t have him, though, and they won’t Sunday against Dallas, either, or Tuesday against Buffalo. But that’s OK, though, because what Landeskog did was truly heinous and no doubt it has sent an unmistakable signal to the rest of that league that such actions will not…go…unpunished and that nobody is above the law.


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Adrian Dater

Adrian Dater is a staff writer with BSNDenver. He started his journalism career way, way back in 1988 as a proofreader with the Concord Monitor as a kid out of college (Keene State College), and has wended its way since with a 25-year stop at The Denver Post, 20 of which were spent as the beat writer of the Colorado Avalanche, from its inception in 1995. Adrian has also worked as a primary hockey writer with Sports Illustrated, The Sporting News, The Hockey News, and Bleacher Report. He is the author of seven sports books, including the best-selling “Blood Feud: Colorado Avalanche v. Detroit Red Wings, The Inside Story of Pro Sports’ Nastiest and Best Rivalry of Its Era” and “100 Things Avalanche Fans Should Know and Do Before They Die”, which was published in October, 2016.

  • cerveau

    Not only that but the penalty against Barbs that led to the Devils second goal really had me scratching my head.
    I’m beginning to really believe the refs are major unfair to the Avs – the number of unfair calls seems above normal or average compared to other teams.
    That said, Landy got carried away and should know better by now… it certainly seems he’s got a target on his back and therefore needs to learn to control himself.

    • OCMS

      The Avs have been totally screwed by bad officiating this year. How can you quantify if the Avs have been screwed over more than other teams this year, however?

      • cerveau

        I can’t quantify it.
        But, I’m hoping AD can answer in much more detail. I’m just reacting off of all I hear such as Kane’s getting nothing for his cross check compared to Landy’s four games, that goal that was denied for the Avs that the NHL later admitted was an error, and on and on.
        I’ve watched other games (sorry I can’t remember the details) and I just can’t remember as many massively unfair calls as I’ve seen with the Avs.
        But since I’m not a sports writer I don’t keep tabs on the details the way Dater and AJ and others do.

        • OCMS

          It’s definitely possible that the Avs had been on the receiving end of way more unfair calls than in previous years. That doesn’t mean lots of teams can’t make the same claim. It might not be about the Avs, but NHL officiating and DOPS in general.

          • Charlie Anderson

            Maybe the NHL DOPS is just incompetent? You know, like they hire people to make these decisions that are fresh out of dropping out of high school and they get off their day shift at Burger King and go home and get wasted and then stumble into their night shift as decision maker for the DOPS??? Right?