The Leafs played the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday in a game that was dull until the very end when many things happened.
- Anthony Mantha jumped Jake Muzzin after a clean hit, punched him and had him in a headlock.
- Muzzin took Mantha down bodily, and Mantha hit his head on the ice. Muzzin was given the extra minor penalty for an unexplained unsportsmanlike conduct (that’s usually for something you say or do that the refs take offence to but isn’t covered under the rules specifically).
- Travis Dermott was ejected for banging his stick on the ice after the Red Wings scored on the resulting power play.
- Andreas Athanasiou took a run at Alexander Kerfoot and tried a knee-on-knee that failed only due to Kerfoot’s evasive manoeuvres.
- Justin Holl fought Athanasiou, and they both got the gate.
So naturally, the Wheel of Discipline fell on… Robby Fabbri for a really obvious spearing that was called a slash midway through the second period:
Kerfoot, who apparently the Red Wings don’t like (possibly the red haze of hatred for Colorado players that still infects Detroit after all these years), and Fabbri were given slashing minors at the time, which is odd, since the referee and the linesman say it up close.
Rule 62 – Spearing
62.1 Spearing – Spearing shall mean stabbing an opponent with the point of the stick blade, whether contact is made or not.
62.2 Double-minor Penalty – A double-minor penalty will be imposed on a player who spears an opponent and does not make contact.
62.3 Major Penalty – A major penalty shall be imposed on a player who spears an opponent (see 62.5).
62.4 Match Penalty – A match penalty shall be imposed on a player who injures an opponent as a result of a spear.
62.5 Game Misconduct Penalty – Whenever a major penalty is assessed for spearing, a game misconduct penalty must also be imposed.
62.6 Fines and Suspensions – There are no specified fines or suspensions for spearing, however, supplementary discipline can be applied by the Commissioner at his discretion (refer to Rule 28).
In a classic case of assigning penalties for the outcome they wanted, not according to the rules, the referee wanted two minors and four-on-four hockey, so he transformed the spearing into a slash to avoid having to hand out a major penalty and a game misconduct.
Technically the Commissioner does have the right to fine players as stated in the rule, and that right has been passed onto the Department of Player Safety. They’re fond of fines under the new regime run by George Parros. The criteria for the fine amount is capped at 50% of one day’s salary for the player, up to $10,000 on a first offence. Fines are not the same as the salary forfeited from a suspension.
Player Safety has issued nine fines so far this year and 10 suspensions for on-ice behaviour.
The NHL has created a system of on-ice referees enforcing a set rule book, while their supplementary discipline has near absolute discretion and exists outside the entire chain of authority of the on-ice officials. They all ultimately work for the NHL, but the streams don’t cross until you get to the very top. It’s inevitable, then, that the league will, with one arm, second guess or overrule the decisions of the on-ice officials.
Fabbri should have been assessed a major penalty under the rules. But penalties are used to manage gameflow, emotions and to appear to be impartial and fair in some way. All fans expect the contradiction of fairness (to their team) and even distribution of penalty minutes, which is impossible to achieve. The NHL has long held with the idea that penalties should be assessed in a traditional way that appears like they’ve achieved both competing goals of the fans, leaving all of us confused most of the time about why they do what they do, and opening the door to conspiracy theorists and the grievance-prone.
And now, after a game with several dangerous actions, several outrageous actions and a lot of penalties given in a flurry, this one choice of a referee from long before any of that boiled over gets special attention. Whether intentional or not, the message here is that the league doesn’t think the referees are doing their job correctly. This is an odd way to make that point.
If DoPS plans on spinning the wheel again for any of the other events of that game, we’ll let you know. I don’t try to guess anymore.
Blue Jays agree to three-year deal with OF Brantley – TSN
The Toronto Blue Jays have not added Michael Brantley, yet.
Contrary to earlier reports, ESPN’s Jeff Passan writes there is no agreement in place as of yet between the two sides. He notes the Blue Jays are still in on Brantley, and could still reach a deal with the veteran outfielder.
After the Jays reached a six-year, $150 million agreement with Springer late Tuesday night, TSN Blue Jays Reporter Scott Mitchell tweeted there were “legit legs to the Michael Brantley package deal” and the Blue Jays are very open to it.
Mitchell noted Tuesday night that adding Brantley, a 33-year-old left fielder, would create an outfield logjam, but the Jays could use the surplus to upgrade their pitching on the trade market.
Brantley had been the mark of consistency at the plate during his lengthy big league career and that continued once he arrived with the Houston Astros after the 2018 season.
Brantley has hit .309 combined over the past two seasons, good for eighth best in baseball over that span.
Prior to his tenure in Houston, Brantley is known for the 10 seasons he spent with Cleveland, appearing in 1,051 games during that time period. He is a four-time All-Star and a one-time Silver Slugger Award winner (2014).
Brantley was originally selected by the Milwaukee Brewers in the seventh round of the 2005 MLB Draft and arrived in Cleveland in a 2008 trade deadline deal that saw left-hander C.C. Sabathia head to Milwaukee.
Edmonton Oilers coming apart at seams through first four games of season – Edmonton Sun
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There’s no word on whether one of them is Maple Leafs Zamboni driver David Ayres.
With Stuart Skinner as the current backup, having a total of zero games of NHL experience, the Oilers are going to be relying heavily on Koskinen, who looked better in the second game against Montreal, but still gave up two soft goals in the loss — one on a wrist shot from the blue line and the other from behind the goal line.
“Yeah of course this is not what we wanted and we can’t get frustrated,” said Koskinen, who has faced 145 shots and conceded 15 goals. “It’s only four games done and we have to keep the work ethic and find a way to win games. It’s going to be a long push and we need to be ready when we play against the Leafs in a few days.”
The Oilers are going to need better than a 3.80 goals-against average and .897 save percentage to get back into the hunt. They’re also going to need the power play to be much better.
A unit that scored once on every three opportunities last season, has two goals on 18 man-advantage situations this year and has already given up two shorthanded goals.
Not having James Neal on the top unit hurts, but Barrie has not made the impact expected yet and his biggest contribution to date was not inadvertently breaking up a drop pass from Draisaitl to McDavid, which led to a highlight-reel goal against the Vancouver Canucks.
“I think we have to shoot the puck more,” Tippett said. “We had some chances but you’ve got to bury some of those chances. Montreal’s doing a good job around the front of your net and you’ve got to pay the price to score. And we didn’t bury the chances and we didn’t shoot the puck enough.
“You look at the two games, I think we had 10 power plays and we came out minus-2 on power plays. That’s an area that should be one of our strengths but it wasn’t the last two games.”
The Oilers can’t rely on McDavid and Draisaitl scoring four points per game to win. The supporting cast put together by Holland on a shoestring budget, after paying the top three forwards $27-million combined, has to start punching above its weight.
If they can’t, then those four playoff spots in the North Division could pull away in a hurry.
On Twitter: @DerekVanDiest
Rivers retiring after 17 seasons in NFL – TSN
Veteran quarterback Philip Rivers told Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune he is retiring after 17 seasons in the NFL, 16 with the Chargers organization.
Rivers spent the 2020 season with the Indianapolis Colts, leading the team to the playoffs before losing to the Buffalo Bills in the Wild Card Round.
The 39-year-old threw for 4,169 yards, 24 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions.
Prior to his lone season in Indianapolis, Rivers played 16 seasons with the Chargers split between San Diego and Los Angeles.
Rivers was drafted fourth overall by the New York Giants in 2004 before getting traded to the Chargers as part of a deal for Eli Manning.
An eight-time Pro Bowler, Rivers finished his career with 63,440 yards, 421 touchdowns, and 209 interceptions. He ranks fifth all-time in the NFL in both passing yards and touchdown passes.
Blue Jays agree to three-year deal with OF Brantley – TSN
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