Earlier today, the NHL’s Department of Player Safety announced that they wanted to talk to Kings forward Dustin Brown for an incident that took place in last night’s game against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Brown received a major penalty and a game misconduct for kneeing Bolts defenseman Mikhail Sergachev (top). Tonight, the league announced that they’ve decided to suspend Brown for one game.
But is sitting him down for one game enough of a punishment?
Let’s keep in mind that he didn’t miss all of Saturday’s game, but he was tossed at the 14:30 mark of the second period. So he missed less than half the game.
Although he’s not a repeat offender in the league’s eyes, this isn’t the first time that Brown has crossed the line on the ice. Heck, this isn’t even the first time he’s used his knee to inflict pain on an opponent. In the 2012 playoffs, he injured Coyotes defenseman Michal Rozsival on a similar play.
Obviously, this incident happened almost six years ago, so it doesn’t factor into this suspension, but how many more dangerous plays is the Kings forward going to make before the league decides to send him a clear message.
As the league mentioned in their explanation of the suspension, Brown had “sufficient time to attempt a legal, full body hit, or allow Sergachev to pass by him untouched. Instead, he extends his knee to ensure contact will be made”. At this point, the league has hit the nail right on the head with their wording. This is clearly something the veteran could have avoided.
But here’s where the league’s wording gets kind of questionable: “And while we do not believe that this is a malicious or planned attempt to injure an opponent, the onus remains on the hitter to deliver a legal check.”
It may not have been pre-meditated because it happened in a split-second, but what exactly was Brown trying to do? That’s an incredibly dangerous play. Sergachev, who managed to return to the game, could’ve been seriously hurt.
George Parros did well to suspend Alex Burrows 10 games for kneeing Taylor Hall in the head repeatedly last week. That type of punishment definitely sent a message to Burrows and the rest of the league. Unfortunately, you can’t help but feel like this incident involving Brown is a “swing and a miss” for the Department of Player Safety.