Monday, 15 October 2018

Matheson For A Pair

In the 1980s, the move that Mike Matheson pulled on Elias Pettersson on Saturday night probably would have been deemed a "good ol' hockey play". The injury that Pettersson suffered would have had fans calling him "soft" for getting "his bell rung", but things have changed over the last thirty years. As you're probably aware, concussions are at the forefront for professional sports, especially when it comes to the lasting effects of concussions, but the NHL seems to be steadfast in its assumption that concussions do not cause long-lasting effects on the human brain. Regardless of the NHL's stance, Elias Pettersson suffered a concussion due to Mike Matheson's body slam, and Matheson was called by the Department of Player Safety today to figure out how long he'll sit for regarding that body slam.

Again, I struggle to understand how old-school players such as Brad May, Kelly Chase, and Jason Strudwick seem to classify Matheson's hit and body slam on Pettersson as an "old-school hockey play" when rugged guys who played against them such as Mike Peluso, Matthew Barnaby, and Stu Grimson all were forced into retirement early due to concussions. Players such as Jeff Beukeboom and Kevin Kaminski had their lives derailed entirely by concussions, yet this gets a pass from the former players named at the top of this paragraph?

Elias Pettersson is 19 years-old, and he already has a concussion under his belt as an NHL player. Do we really expect him to have a long and prosperous career if plays such as Matheson's are allowed?

The Department of Player Safety saw two separate plays in terms of what Matheson did after he got dangled out of his jockstrap by Pettersson in the left corner.

"What causes this incident to rise to the level of supplemental discipline, is that it encompasses two separate and distinct acts," claims the DoPS in the suspension video. "First, Matheson pins Pettersson to the boards in a legal and effective defensive maneuver. Then with the puck long separated from the area, and Pettersson unable to defend himself, Matheson drives him directly downward and into the ice with force, causing an injury."

I agree with this statement 100%. The pin that Matheson put on Pettersson behind the net once he recovered from his defensive lapse is entirely within the rules. He simply uses his body to prevent Pettersson from moving along the boards, forcing Petterson to pass the puck away. Had that been the end of the play behind the net, we'd have no problem. Instead, Matheson follows up the pin against the boards with the body slam that caused Pettersson's head to hit the ice causing the concussion.

Was Matheson looking for a little retribution for the dangle that embarrassed him moments prior to this incident? Possibly. He'll never go on record in saying that, but the video shows that he kept his eye on Pettersson after Pettersson deked him out of his skates.
If anything, the body slam seems like a message to the rookie from Matheson. Matheson seemingly didn't like what Pettersson did in deking him off his feet, giving him the bump with the elbow as Pettersson went behind the net, and he followed up that elbow by dumping Pettersson on his head as a bit of retaliation.

As the Department of Player Safety's video stated, "This is not a hockey play."

It was announced today that Mike Matheson received a two-game suspension for this transgression, and I can't say that I'm surprised that it was a low number of games. Matheson has not been in trouble with the league before about his play, so the Department of Player Safety can't necessarily toss the book at him. Two games seems like it would be the maximum penalty that the NHL could assess without an appeal, so all's well that ends well, I guess.

The only problem? Elias Pettersson's return to the Canucks' lineup seems to be much further away than just two games. For a player who has eight points in five games, he's a big part of the early success of the Canucks. You can understand why Canucks head coach Travis Green and the Vancouver Canucks fanbase were still fuming today over the decision.

Be thankful that Matheson got something, Canucks fans. I had the NHL pegged for a simple fine due to his lack of questionable play, so that two-game break should be seen as something tangible. Yes, it won't bring back your star player, but it's likely the most the NHL could do with the NHLPA appealing this decision.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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