Yesterday Detroit Red Wings forward Justin Abdelkader was fined the “maximum” $5,000 for trying to rearrange New York Islanders defenseman Scott Mayfield’s groin. It’s not actually the max, but I’ll get to that.
In the New York Islanders 6-3 loss to the Detroit Red Wings, Scott Mayfield had his personal area attacked by Abdelkader. The call on the ice gave Abdelkader a two-minute minor.
It came after a battle for body position in front of Thomas Greiss, when Mayfield managed to knock Justin Abdelkader down to the ice. Say what you will about the tactic that Mayfield used in order to know Abdelkader down, what came next was a severe overreaction.
Immediately after getting up from the ice, Abdelkader has but one thing in mind. To get back at Mayfield. And Abdelkader does that by forcefully lifting his stick between Mayfield’s legs. Have a look for yourselves.
It Is A Slash, Sorta
In my immediately reaction I said: “I don’t care what definition you use. This is NOT a slash.” Turns out that if you use the NHL’s rule book it kind of is a slash. According to rule 61.1 Slashing is:
"Slashing is the act of a player swinging his stick at an opponent, whether contact is made or not. Non-aggressive stick contact to the pant or front of the shin pads, should not be penalized as slashing. Any forceful or powerful chop with the stick on an opponent’s body, the opponent’s stick, or on or near the opponent’s hands that, in the judgment of the Referee, is not an attempt to play the puck, shall be penalized as slashing."
Sounds like what Abdelkader did. But somehow the act of lifting ones stick forcefully up between another players legs doesn’t sound like slashing. He didn’t “swing” his stick or use his stick to “chop” at Mayfield. But I realise I’m just parting hairs here. So I’ll drop it. It’s slashing.
Want your voice heard? Join the Eyes On Isles team!
So the day after the game the NHL’s Department of Player Safety confirms they’ve reviewed the play and are willing to fine Abdelkader the “maximum” of $5,000. I put maximum in quotes there and through out this article because there’s more the DoPS could have done here. If they wanted to. Which they clearly didn’t.
According to the collective bargaining agreement, the maximum the league can fine a player is:
"Section 18.7 (b): A fine may be in an amount up to fifty percent (50%) of the Player’s Paragraph 1 NHL Salary and Bonuses, but not including Performance Bonuses, divided by the number of days in the Regular Season, but in no event shall it exceed $10,000 for the first fine and $15,000 for any subsequent fine imposed in any rolling twelve (12) month calendar period. Player Salary and Bonuses forfeited due to a fine will be calculated based on a Player’s Averaged Amount."
According to that formula, Abdelkader’s max is $13,513.51. His Paragraph 1 NHL salary is 5,000,000, so 50% is 2,500,000. And there are 185 days in the 2017-18 NHL regular season; 2,500,000/185= 13,513.51. But, from what I know, Abdelkader hasn’t been fined for anything else in the last 12 months so a fine of $10,000 seems like the ceiling.
So where does the $5,000 come from? Telephonic hearings.
"Section 18.7 (d): Fines in excess of $5,000 are subject to the telephonic hearing procedures afforded to Players subject to suspension of five (5) games or less, as set forth in Section 18.8."
The DoPS didn’t want to go through a telephonic hearing on this, for reasons. Maybe it’s because they didn’t think the act by Abdelkader was worthy of a suspension up to five games. Which kind of makes sense. Brad Marchand got two games for doing this at the end of last season. But Brad Marchand is a recidivist, Abdelkader is not.
But the way I read the collective agreement is that the amount of the fine is established before determining what actions needs to be taken. The telephone hearing is a product of how large the fine. And not the other way around.
I wrote this not to lobby the DoPS to reverse it’s decision. But rather find out what they meant by “maximum under the CBA for slashing”. And maybe you already knew this. But I sure didn’t. And as you can see, $5,000 isn’t the max, just the highest the DoPS were willing to go for an act that shouldn’t exist in the game.