Nashville Predators: NHL Player Safety showing inconsistency in hearing process

(Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images)
(Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images) /

After a physical game against the Rangers, the NHL Department of Player Safety to hold a hearing regarding Nashville Predators’ Forsberg hit.

If you missed last nights game between the Nashville Predators and the New York Rangers, you missed out on a brawl. With Cody McLeod returning to Bridgestone Arena after being released last week a fight was expected. Not that there is bad blood between McLeod and the Predators, but because it is McLeod’s method.

Other than a late hit on Austin Watson, the expected fight never came to fruition. But, from the moment the puck dropped you could sense a physical battle was to ensue. And it did.

From the start of the game, Rangers’ defensemen Anthony DeAngelo stirred things up. With hits and shoves after whistles were blown, it was clear he was there to pick a fight. He went after Calle Jarnkrok and Scott Hartnell within the first 10 minutes of the opening period. From there, things became ugly.

Miikka Salomaki threw some salty hits along the boards. Alexei Emelin laid Marc Staal in the corner boards. Staal played the puck and lowered his body as Emelin came in for a hit. Emelin’s shoulder connected with Staal’s head, which then hit the edge of the wall. This drew the ire of Rick Nash, according to the New York Post.

“Headshots, they have to be taken out of the game. It’s embarrassing,” Rick Nash told The Post. “I don’t care about running around making clean hits. But when you target a guy’s head, it’s a joke.”

No penalty was assessed.

Forceful Forsberg

A few moments later came the hit in question as Filip Forsberg checked Jimmy Vesey. It was a hit so brutal you could hear a collected “OOOOOHHHH!!” from everyone watching the game. When Vesey got up, his mouth was bleeding. And now, the NHL Department of Player Safety will hold a hearing about this hit.

It is clear the elbow of Forsberg connected with Vesey’s face, though it appears the intent was to lead with the hip. No penalty was called on this hit, or any other hit on the evening.

The hit from Forsberg was brutal for two reasons. First, the body of Forsberg provided an unbalanced force to Vesey. Second, Vesey’s speed was at a rate causing added violence when hit. Sir Issac Newton’s Laws of Motion were in complete observance.

Pending results

What will happen to Forsberg? There are three options. First of all, the OPS could call it a clean hit with unfortunate consequences. Forsberg could be fined, like Taylor Hall of the New Jersey Devils and T.J. Oshie was the Washington Capitals were in the last few days. Both paid $5,000 for their cross-checks. Or Forsberg could be suspended, just like Buffalo’s Johan Larsson was two days ago. However, Larsson cross-checked a player in the face after a play was over.

The debate as to the intent and ferocity of the hit will continue from fans across the league. The fact remains that the NHL Department of Player Safety remains inconsistent in how it manages the game. For example, why hold a hearing over the Forsberg hit when this happened and they did nothing.

Ryan Johansen played the puck and then was leveled by Will Carrier, who led with his shoulder. Johansen left the game with concussion-like symptoms.

Should Forsberg be fined for this hit? Possibly. But a suspension would be over-reaching. It may have been a moment late, but it was not with reckless intent. Was it a dirty hit? No. Are the Nashville Predators a dirty team? Absolutely not. But, they can be physical in games when needed.

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The Rangers came looking for a battle, hoping the Predators would crumble under the physical weight. Nashville stood tall. Now, we just wait for the NHL to finish their hearing.