There have been just countless plays in these playoffs that have been extremely dirty, with a clear intent to injure. The most recent that I saw was Marchand's sliding tackle on Johnsson. That was not a "good hard hockey play" at all. I see people in every thread saying "if you think this is dirty, watch soccer", and yet, when a player looks like they imported FIFA slide tackle controls into NHL 18, suddenly it's not dirty?
There have been SO many legitimately dirty, suspendable, intent to injure plays in these playoffs that have been completely ignored by the league. It's absolutely hilarious that one of the only plays to actually receive a suspension was Doughty's hit, which, dirty or not, was:
1. A play where it could at least be argued that the player was trying to play hockey and make a play that would help his team regain puck possession.
2. A play where the opposing player was not injured.
I am not a fan of Doughty, and I could understand that hit being 1 game, but I can also see the argument that he was at least PLAYING HOCKEY. His hit on William Carrier, in some way, was an attempt to increase his team's chances of scoring a goal and reduces the enemy team's chances of scoring a goal.
We've got countless plays that are not hockey plays at all - things like Marchand's Paul Bunyon slash, Marchand's slide tackle, Subban's elbow to the head, Haula's butt end, McNabb's ridiculous interference, etc., that haven't even received 2 minute minors in the game!
I'll call it the "Marchand syndrome." I think Marchand does so much dirty **** in nearly every single game he plays that it has gotten to a point where people can't even focus on one dirty play because he just made another one 5 seconds ago. I also think that Marchand is not the only culprit; there are so many players in these playoffs who are doing this stupid **** that it has just become normal, and now any time somebody questions these plays, they are suddenly "good, hard hockey".
Ice hockey is a contact sport in which two teams attempt to score more goals than one another. Due to the physical nature of the game, some plays like Drew Doughty's body check on William Carrier are simply seen as good, hard hockey hits. I don't think anybody on either side of the argument will argue that they aren't on a fairly thin line, whichever side they're on. But things like Hedman's spear to Hischier, Marchand's slide tackle on Johnsson or Subban's elbow to the head of MacKinnon are NOT HOCKEY PLAYS. That isn't hard, old school hockey because it is NOT HOCKEY. It is not an attempt to facilitate a goal for and/or prevent a goal against in any way; it is merely an attempt to injure an opposing player so that they can not attempt to facilitate a goal for and/or prevent a goal against.
Plays like Drew Doughty's hit on William Carrier will always exist in hockey as long as checking is allowed. They may be cracked down on, but as long as players are allowed to check one another, there will be situations in which a player makes an honest error in judgment, believing a body check to both the best play available, and connects with the head, causing potential head injuries. I agree with and fully support the NHL's decision to crack down on these plays. However, these plays will always be a part of hockey - some of them will be honest mistakes, some of them will be "mistakes on purpose", and some of them will be clearly intentional, like Scott Stevens' iconic hits on Paul Kariya or Eric Lindros; hits that have been almost entirely phased out of the game.
However, slamming your stick into the testicles of another player's testicles IS NOT HOCKEY. It is not an attempt to separate an opposing player from the puck with a legal check; not even an accident that results in that check being of the dangerous and illegal variety. It is NOT HOCKEY.
If the NHL sent out a memo tomorrow that any player who ever hit another player in the head would be suspended forever, we would still see a few players hit the heads of opposing players by accident. But if the NHL sent out a memo tomorrow that said any player who intentionally swung his stick at the testicles of an opposing player (spearing) would be suspended tomorrow, WE WOULD NEVER SEE ANOTHER SPEAR.
The department of player safety is supposed to prevent players from intentionally harming one another, and make hockey as safe of a sport as possible. I understand this can be very difficult, given that the fact that hockey is a contact sport; rough in nature, with legal fights between two players occurring quite often, and remaining a part of the culture of the game. Sometimes the lines get blurred on hockey plays like Drew Doughty's hit on William Carrier, or scrums where both players seem like willing contestants. But on plays like Victor Hedman's spear on Nico Hischier, or Brad Marchand's slide tackle on Andreas Johnsson, there is no doubt what happened, there was an INTENT TO INJURE.
The NHL decided to crack down on slashing at the start of the year. We saw almost any very light whack called as a 2 minute minor. How is that after an 82 game season and only 3 (and some change from game 4s currently being played) games into the playoffs, a vicious stick swing to the testicles of another man, a clear disregard of playing the objective of hockey, is suddenly only a 2 minute minor and therefore only as big of a deal as a light whack on the gloves, which was clearly an attempt at a player's stick, in order to play the objective of hockey?