George Parros failed again, NHL awards, Jack Eichel and more random NHL thoughts
The NHL Conference Finals are set so let's take a look at where things stand as we get ready for the league's final four to begin
1. George Parros has one job, and he STINKS at it
The NHL has a lot of people in positions of power that are either unqualified for their job or just simply bad at it.
George Parros, the head of the NHL’s Department of Player Safety, checks both of those boxes and that was on display again this past week in the Western Conference Final.
That was when the league issued matching one-game suspensions to Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alex Pietrangelo and Edmonton Oilers defenseman Darnell Nurse for their actions late in the Oilers’ Game 4 win.
Pietrangelo was suspended for a vicious two-handed slash on Oilers superstar Leon Draisaitl.
Nurse was given an automatic one game suspension for instigating a fight in the final five minutes of a game.
The punishments were equal. The actions were not.
In no league with logic, reason and qualified people running such a department would those two players have been given the same punishment for those two actions. If the NHL only wanted to suspend Pietrangelo for one game, then it should have rescinded the automatic suspension for Nurse (which it has the freedom to do). If it did not want to do that, then it should have hit Pietrangelo with a significantly harsher suspension.
Pietrangelo’s slash on Draisaitl had nothing to do with preventing a goal, or gaining possession of the puck, or doing anything tangibly related to winning a hockey game. It was an act of frustration. It was a form of retribution for what Pietrangelo thought were dirty plays by Edmonton’s Evander Kane. It was a deliberate attempt to injure another team’s star players and one of the most dynamic players in the league.
And it only gets one game?
What made the entire decision even more cowardly was the way the NHL news dumped the announcement of the one-game ban for Pietrangelo. It made the announcement just after 8 p.m. on Thursday night, at the exact time an NHL playoff game was taking place, at the exact same time an NBA playoff game was taking place, and just as the NFL was unveiling its 2023 schedule.
They knew it was going to get buried. Which is just what they wanted.
I wrote a few weeks ago about how the department of player safety has gotten way more lenient and inconsistent on punishments under Parros’ watch, and this was just another insane example added to the list.
2. Let’s talk about some NHL Award Finalists
— I used to have an NHL Award vote for a few years but I found the process completely maddening.
For starters, no matter how much hockey you watch (and I think this is true for every sport where this sort of voting takes place) you are never going to watch out of market players as closely as you watch the players within your circle.
You can’t. You won’t. You don’t. That is not a criticism of any person or voter. Or even the process. These awards are not going to hand themselves out, after all. Somebody has to vote on them. It is just a reality that comes with trying to watch 736 players across 32 teams and four different time zones for 82 games each.
And even if you can somehow pull that off, there is still an inherent human bias that comes from watching your player on a nightly basis in person versus the player you are casually watching from afar. Your guy is going to get a longer leash. You are going to take into account more variables.
Then there are the arguments that come from what the awards actually MEAN.
What is value?
What does it mean to be an “all-around defenseman?”
Why does the Selke Trophy, an award specifically for the best defensive forward, almost always go to a player that also scores a lot?
Everybody values these things differently.
I think my most controversial award take is that the Masterton Trophy is cringe-worthy in that it makes us compare player’s trauma, injuries, and hurdles in a competition to see who has suffered the most or overcome the most. I get the idea behind it. And it is one of those things that IS a good idea in theory. But it gets taken to a completely unintended level of grossness. It is deranged. All 32 players that are nominated by their local market should be honored equally and it should be left at that.
So with that said, let’s look at some of the finalists and top vote-getters for some of the more prominent NHL awards.
— Hart Trophy (MVP)
The Finalists: Connor McDavid (Edmonton Oilers), David Pastrnak (Boston Bruins), Matthew Tkachuk (Florida Panthers)