Colorado Avalanche Captain Gabriel Landeskog Targeted by DoPS

STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN - NOVEMBER 11: Gabriel Landeskog
STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN - NOVEMBER 11: Gabriel Landeskog /

The NHL Department of Player Safety has targeted the Colorado Avalanche again, handing down a four-game suspension for captain Gabriel Landeskog.

The NHL Department of Player “Safety” has swept in again to deliver swift and harsh justice to the Colorado Avalanche. The team will be without its captain for the remainder of the home stand.

The DoPS has suspended left wing Gabriel Landeskog for crosschecking Calgary Flames forward Matthew Tkachuk on Saturday night. He will miss four games — the remainder of the Avs’ home stand — and won’t be eligible to return until the game in Tampa Bay on December 7.

Here’s the DoPS video explaining the decision:

And here’s where I start ranting.

More from Mile High Sticking

First of all, I’ll acknowledge Gabriel Landeskog shouldn’t have hit Tkachuk in the head like that. However, even the DoPS acknowledges that the hit wasn’t targeted, only that Landeskog is responsible for being “in control of his stick.” If the hit, by DoPS’ own admission isn’t targeted, then why is the supplemental discipline so steep?

Second, DoPS does answer that question — by dissembling. They acknowledge that, per the CBA, Landeskog is no longer considered a “repeat offender.” In the very next breath, it continues, “It is important to note that Gabriel Landeskog has previously been suspended three games for a similar act in March of 2016.” Um, no longer being considered a repeat offender means you don’t go back and “note” his history for purposes of handing down harsher sentencing — per the CBA, that’s not allowed.

Now, let’s get down to something that’s long been an open secret — NHL officiating has always played favorites. If you’re considered one of their golden children, you can essentially get away with murder — or literally slashing off the tip of Marc Methot‘s finger.

While it’s not so openly acknowledged, NHL officials must have its whipping boys. And it’s clear the Colorado Avalanche are one of them.

Case in point — the Department of Player “Safety” is supposed to be about, you know, safety for the players. However, when Anaheim Ducks defenseman Derek Grant attempted to enucleate (that means remove the eye of) Nathan MacKinnon with his stick, there was no call (warning: MacKinnon’s cries of pain and fear are heart-wrenching):

And there was no supplemental discipline. Now, explain to me why Gabriel Landeskog has to be in control of his stick while Derek Grant apparently does not. (According to MacKinnon’s After Hours interview, even the referee was shocked by the injury. Apparently not enough to call the penalty, though.)

Speaking to safety, that’s a stick blade right to the eyeball. He lost vision in that eye for 10 minutes. He could have suffered a detached retina, like Carl Soderberg did, which could have derailed or even ended his career. And yet there was no call, and no supplemental discipline. How is that looking out for his safety?

Speaking of nearly derailing careers, there’s no question that center Tyson Jost has had his rookie season derailed by this Adam McQuaid hit:

Let’s see, how does the DoPS like to put it? Ah, Key Point — That is cross checking. That is dangerous cross checking. That is cross checking right into the boards, which can result in serious injury. Indeed, Jost suffered a bruised bone as a result of the hit. He tried to come back, but after two games the team put him on Injured Reserve. Once he was back, the team sent him to San Antonio for conditioning. So, in all, because of that hit, Jost has missed 16 NHL games.

McQuaid did receive two minutes for cross checking, but, despite Jost’s injury, there was no supplemental discipline. How is that protecting a player’s safety?

Next, Las Vegas Knights defenseman Brayden McNabb (who completely derailed Joey Hishon‘s career with a vicious hit to the head in the AHL), inflicts the same exact elbow to the head against Avalanche rookie Alexander Kerfoot:

Again, I repeat, that’s the exact same kind of hit that Joey Hishon was unable to recover fully from. Yet McNabb didn’t receive a penalty on the play nor a call from the Department of Player “Safety.” Doesn’t the DoPS think a Harvard graduate might want to preserve his head and the intelligent brains inside? Doesn’t he deserve safety anyway just by being a player supposedly under their protection?

Not a single one of these hits is any less dangerous than the one Gabriel Landeskog laid on Matthew Tkachuk. Indeed, the one by McQuaid resulted in actual injury while Landeskog’s did not.

Yet not a single one of those hits, inflicted on Avalanche players instead of by an Avalanche player merited even a look?

The Colorado Avalanche is the NHL Department of Safety’s whipping boy for some reason. This inequity needs to be addressed by the NHL Player Association and the league of NHL owners. There needs to be true parity in the NHL — and there needs to be accountability for when there is not.

Next: Landeskog Living up to Expectations

Going back to the original topic, Landeskog shouldn’t have been suspended any more than Grant, McQuaid or McNabb were. Or they all should have been suspended.