Thursday night the Ottawa Senators defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins 2-1 in the shootout. The Victory brought the Sens to within one point of the Montreal Canadiens for the Atlantic division lead.
However, this wasn’t the biggest story of the night. All talk was centered on the slash by Sidney Crosby on Marc Methot’s hand which shattered one of Methot’s fingers. While Methot will be out for weeks with the injury, there was no penalty on the play and there will be no supplemental discipline for Crosby.
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Dispelling the Notion of Favouritism
Many have been quick to accuse the league a favouritism towards the Penguins and more specifically Crosby. While the league may show favouritism to Crosby at times, this was not a suspension worthy play. This was a routine slash that resulted in a freak injury. These types of plays happen all the time in every game that’s played. The problem is not with the department of player safety but rather with how referees are calling games.
A Possible Solution
The Methot injury might be the most gruesome example, but it’s not the first injury to come from slashes directed at the hand and wrist of players. Earlier in the year Johnny Gaudreau was out for a month because he needed surgery on his finger after taking multiple slashes in one game. When he returned, he began wearing a new type of glove that is sightly thick and covers more of the wrist. Some might argue that new equipment is the best way to deal with this type of situation. However, while new equipment might reduce the number of injuries, it won’t address the problem of aggressive stuck play and therefore won’t eliminate injuries.
The Role of the Officials
The problem is not the equipment, but the fact that these type of slashes are not seen worthy of a penalty by officials. Without the officials making calls on these types of plays we will continue to see these types of hand injuries occur. The only true solution is for the officials to crack down on these types of slashes.
Culture Change is Needed
I don’t personally believe that the league shows favouritism towards the Penguins or Crosby. However, regardless, favouritism it is not relevant to this specific situation. The problem is the culture around these type of plays. The officials need to take responsibility for protecting the safety of the players.
In the meantime, the Senators will need to do without Methot. Ottawa plays Montreal tonight with a chance to take the Atlantic division lead. With Methot out, Claesson will take his spot as Karlsson’s defence partner. Stalberg will also sit out with injuries as Mark Stone will return from injuries of his own. Regardless of the outcome, it’s highly likely we’ll see at least one slash similar to the one that injured Methot. Without change, it’s only a matter of time before another injury comes from an uncalled hand slash.