Edmonton Oilers Connor McDavid deserves supplemental discipline for his illegal hit to the head on New York Islanders defenseman Nick Leddy. And it seems he just might.
In the first period of the New York Islanders loss to the Edmonton Oilers, defenseman Nick Leddy received an elbow to the head from none other than superstar forward Connor McDavid. McDavid was assessed a two-minute minor penalty on the play. That’s just simply not enough.
Consider this. McDavid was given the same penalty as Johnny Boychuk for getting the puck over the glass. Both were to serve two minutes for their infraction. Boychuk, for delay of game. McDavid, for hitting someone in the head. There’s a clear gap in severity between both infractions
If the NHL is serious in eliminating hits to the head, they’ll look long and hard at this one and set a precedence by giving McDavid supplemental discipline. As far as we know, they’ll at least look at the hit. Knowing the NHL, and how it treats its start players, who knows if McDavid will face any sort of extra discipline.
Does He Deserve It
For context, here’s the hit in question. It’s clear that Leddy is available to be hit, he’s got his head down, but its legal for McDavid to hit him. But rather than take the body, Connor McDavid skates by Leddy and sticks out his elbow making direct contact with Nick Leddy’s head (who is now under concussion protocol).
There’s no question that this hit was deliberate. I’m not going to say that McDavid wanted to injure Nick Leddy on the play, but his intent was clearly to hit Leddy’s head (which typically results in an injury last time I checked).
When you look at the NHL rulebook an illegal check to the head (which is what McDavid was called for) can only be assessed a minor penalty or a match penalty. And with McDavid’s superstar status we all know that refs won’t award him a match penalty, it’s just not what happens in the NHL.
McDavid absolutely deserves a two game suspension for his hit on Nick Leddy. Does he get that from the Department of Player Safety? Probably not. He’ll get a max fine and the NHL will be done with it. That’s just the reality for superstar players in the NHL. If the roles were reversed on this play its easy to paint a scenario where Nick Leddy is getting the kitchen sink thrown at him.
But if the NHL and the DoPS are serious about head contact and eliminating it from the NHL (as best they cane) they’ll use a superstar player as an example. The message they should be wanting to send is: “If we’re willing to give McDavid north of two games for this hit, imagine what we’ll give you.” This is a bar setting type of infraction for the NHL.
Unfortunately, the message the DoPS and the NHL usually send when it comes to superstar infractions is: “we don’t care, just keep making us money”. Hopefully, the NHL gets it right this time.