The NHL’s department of player safety handed Winnipeg Jets defenseman Jacob Trouba a two-game suspension on Monday afternoon for a high, forceful hit to Ottawa Senators forward Mark Stone over the weekend.
Stone is one of the many Senators forwards out of the lineup on Tuesday night.
It is a decision that has left the Jets feeling a little confused. Not only because of the suspension itself, but because of the lack of a suspension for Pittsburgh Penguins forward Evgeni Malkin for a high hit he delivered on Jets forward Blake Wheeler on Thursday night in Pittsburgh.
That perceived inconsistency has not entirely sat well with the Jets.
On Tuesday, before their game against the Toronto Maple Leafs, Wheeler shared some of his thoughts on the differing decisions by the league.
“You like to see consistency throughout,” Wheeler said on Tuesday, via ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun. “We respect the fact they have a lot of hits they have to sort through every single day. There’s two glaring examples back to back, it gets the question why one way and why not the other way? So, it’s a little bit frustrating to see it. Even Jacob would say his hit wasn’t ideal, wishes he could have it back. You can’t really even speculate why they didn’t do the same to Malkin. It sure didn’t feel good.”
The NHL has not made an official explanation as to why it did not suspend Malkin, but it’s been reported that the league simply views the two plays as different types of hits. In the case of Malkin’s hit on Wheeler, the league saw the shoulder being the biggest point of contact and that it wasn’t necessarily charging or interference.
This was the hit.
He had more thoughts, again via LeBrun:
“My answer to that is why is he hitting me at all? It has no impact on the play whatsoever. You know Evgeni Malkin is pretty aware of his surroundings on the ice, he’s one of the top players in the league. I think he knows who has the puck and who doesn’t have the puck. If I’m him and I’m hitting a guy like that, it’s a cheap shot. Because I know I’m doing that. That’s to me how I see it.”
Jets coach Paul Maurice was also asked about the decision to suspend Trouba and had a very odd way of voicing his disagreement, deciding to talk about how frugal he is financially, pretty much suggesting that he does not want to say anything that would get him fined.
“What’s the truth? So we respectfully accept the decision while we disagree,” said Maurice, then briefly pausing before deciding to continue.
“I got one. I drive a 2011 Yukon. I bought it used. Because I’m cheap. Frugal. Frugality. Frugalness. I am not sure how you want to go with it. But my cheapness outweighs my disappointment. Fair enough?”
Sure is, coach! In other words: He does not like it, but he does not want to lose any of his paycheck for saying what he really thinks.
When asked if the lack of a suspension for Malkin weighed into his disappointment, he added “I would suggest that any of the spinal fractures that we have suffered over the past year would weigh into my disappointment.”
Trouba will miss the Jets’ games on Tuesday against Toronto and then their Feb. 28 game against Minnesota following their bye week.
He will be eligible to return on March 3 against the St. Louis Blues.