On Friday, San Jose Sharks forward Logan Couture was fined $5,000 for his slew-foot of Detroit Red Wings defenseman Brendan Smith.
Here’s the play in case you missed it.
Couture was given a two-minute tripping call on the play, and Smith was given a two-minute hooking call.
There’s no doubt Smith’s stick was up in the midsection of Couture, but a slew-foot is a dangerous play, and a $5,000 fine is not a big enough deterrent.
Fine is Too Lenient
Couture’s base salary this season is $6 million, according to Spotrac. So, a $5,000 fine is 0.083 percent of his salary. It’s not a big enough chunk of his salary where it will deter him from doing it again. Couture has no suspension history, but why is the NHL Department of Player Safety so hesitant to suspend players?
Its main goal is to protect the players who play in the NHL, right? Well, the only way you will deter players from performing this dangerous move is with suspensions. Fines won’t do it, especially fines that are this small.
We’ve already seen three slew-foots this season including Couture’s, and the prior two players each received suspensions. Granted, those players were repeat offenders. But I think a one-game suspension would have been enough for Couture.
He hasn’t had a history of fines or suspensions, but this was an egregious act that needs to be nipped to deter him from doing it again. According to MLive.com’s Ansar Khan, Smith is day to day and could miss today’s game against Nashville. According to the Detroit Free Press’ Helene St. James, Xaiver Ouellet was recalled in case Smith can’t play.
Xavier Ouellet is insurance if Brendan Smith can’t play today at Nashville. Smith (hand) was sore last night.
— Helene St. James (@HeleneStJames) February 28, 2015
Jamie Been Receives No Discipline
Last Saturday against the Dallas Stars, Henrik Zetterberg got an elbow and a punch to the head by Jamie Benn after Zetterberg tied up the Stars forward.
Zetterberg eventually left the game and missed the team’s last three games in California and will miss the team’s game today against Nashville. In fact, according to SB Nation’s Winging It In Motown, Zetterberg is now listed on the injured reserve list.
The Red Wings’ website now lists Henrik Zetterberg on injured reserve.
— Winging It In Motown (@wingingitmotown) February 28, 2015
Here’s the video of Benn’s punch:
While there is no doubt Zetterberg was holding Benn, it doesn’t warrant him getting an elbow and a fist to the head.
Benn has a history of being fined and probably should have been suspended after throwing this elbow on Matt Cooke last season. The reasoning for no suspension on the Cooke play was Been was defending himself, and DoPS doesn’t see it as a predatory act. Instead, Benn received a warning. Well, elbowing an opposing player and punching him in the head seems awfully predatory.
My biggest gripe with the Department of Player Safety is it bases its fines and suspensions on the severity of the injury. While there have been worse acts than Benn’s punch not called, Zetterberg likely will miss at least four games because of it. If you’re going to base your fines and suspension on time missed, surely that play warranted something.
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Tom Mitsos is a writer from Michigan who covers the Red Wings and the Red Wings’ AHL affiliate, the Grand Rapids Griffins, for The Hockey Writers.