The readers who've read my Ramblings for at least a few years now, or followed me on social media, know that one thing I constantly harp on is cross-checking. The simple explanation is like this: there are hundreds of cross-checks every night in the NHL of varying levels of force, and only a handful will get called. The problem with that is, eventually, things are going to go very wrong (Jamie Benn last year or Auston Matthews this year come to mind).
To get to our point here, the problem lies with the Department of Player Safety. The rulings are inconsistent, the suspensions infrequent (lots of fines, though), and no one knows what DoPS will serve up on any given play. Matthews got two games for his cross-check while Benn, who broke Dylan Larkin's neck, skated without so much as a penalty. That kind of inconsistency makes it hard for players to know exactly where the line is, which is what makes things like hundreds of cross-checks every night a problem.
This wasn't a cross-check, but it brings us to the latest talking point:
Taylor Hall got a fine for a sucker punch. Okay. Does anyone remember when Larkin did something similar earlier this year and got a game for it? Or when Max Pacioretty did it and just got an on-ice penalty? This is what I'm talking about. What's the line here? Sucker-punching from behind is a fine, sometimes, but sucker-punching when the guy is skating in your general direction is a suspension? Okay?
Regardless of your feelings on what Hall did, and what should be levied, it's clear there is absolutely no consistency with the DoPS. They are completely, utterly incompetent at all levels. This falls on them and the NHL. This is the product they want on the ice. They want players to guess as to whether a cross-check to the head gets two games, or none, or whether a sucker-punch gets a fine, or a suspension. It is lunacy. Then again, this is the NHL, where only the stupidest ideas are brought forward.
The Montreal Canadiens made a signing: