Today, the NHL Department of Play Safety (that title really belongs in quotations) fined PK Subban $2,500 for a “dangerous trip” on Chris Kunitz in the Pens game against the Canadiens last night.
Two months ago, James Neal was fined $2,500 for high sticking when Subban slewfooted him.
While I am pleased the league finally took action against Subban, who is a notorious slewfooter, this is just far too late. How was this not assessed in the James Neal incident? On top of the fact, that the infraction is being called something different than what it really was. Brad Marchand was assessed a fine for “slewfooting” Matt Niskanen.
Look at the Marchand play:
Now the Subban on Chris Kunitz:
Subban on James Neal:
And finally, Subban on Brandon Dubinsky:
Subban does this all the time. The only comfort I take in this fine is that now he is considered a repeat offender and hopefully next time he will face suspension, if he gets called on the slewfoot at all. Subban slewfooting and not getting called for it, no matter what arena he is in, is just part of Peter Laviolette’s definition of “Montreal Typical.”
It’s on everybody’s mind, so I’ll just be the one to say it. It is my opinion that Subban gets away with his dangerous style of play because of his race. He is a talented hockey player. No one can deny that. But he is one of the few black players in the NHL and is the most skilled. Given the events earlier this season around the Flyers Wayne Simmonds and some terrible incidents involving his race.
The NHL already has its share of problems this season with the media because of all of the concussions and its emphasis on player safety. The last thing it needs is Montreal, who is already notorious for causing a ruckus around any controversy involving their players whether they were in the wrong or not, claiming that Subban is being targeted for his skin color. Even if it wasn’t Montreal who went there, you know someone would. Someone, somewhere would immediately bring race into question because that’s what the media is good at doing: bringing a controversy out of nothing. Some reporter desperate for attention would bring it up.
This is a headache the league simply cannot afford.
We can only hope that from here on out, Subban is punished appropriately for his actions. He gets away with this far too often without taking so much as a penalty. I give Brendan Shanahan credit for doing something this time, but now the bar is set with Subban. He is a repeat offender and must be treated as such.
**EDIT** I knew someone would take this in the opposite direction, so let me be clear: This is NOT a case of the NHL being racist. This is what may be a case of the NHL not wanting to APPEAR racist for punishing one of the dirtiest players in the NHL, who happens to be at the same time one of the few black hockey players and arguably the most talented. This is the inverse of racism. This is tip-toeing around the issue and turning a blind eye to avoid controversy. This is just my opinion. It does not mean it is true.