Should NHL Teams Have a Say in League Discipline?


Mar 30, 2013; St. Paul, MN, USA; Los Angeles Kings forward Dustin Brown (23) against the Minnesota Wild at the Xcel Energy Center. The Wild defeated the Kings 4-3 in a shootout. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Wild were up 2-0 in a game against the defending Stanley Cup Champion Los Angeles Kings at the Xcel Energy Center last night when something occurred that could potentially be devastating to Wild team making their final push for the playoffs. With 9:56 to go in the second period, deadline acquisition Jason Pominville was chasing after the puck along the boards in the LA defensive zone. Kings captain Dustin Brown beat him to it, leveling the former Sabres captain to the ice with a blatant elbow to the face. No penalty was called, and Wild players, staff and fans were left speechless at the atrocious officiating that had been taking place all game long. Pominville would not return to the game.

Today, Brown faces a disciplinary hearing to answer for the hit in last night’s 2-1 victory for Minnesota. If he is suspended for any amount of time, he’ll miss tonight’s matchup with the Detroit Red Wings. If the Red Wings manage a win against the Kings—currently 4th in the West—they’ll jump back into the 8th seed with 52 points, just one shy of Minnesota’s 53 with two games to go in the season for both. A suspended captain for the playoff-bound Kings would definitely make a Detroit win much more realistic, likely even.

With that in mind, it brings to question should teams have a say in league discipline? The Kings have clinched; all they’re fighting for is seeding. If Brown is suspended, all it does is rest him up for the playoffs. It doesn’t bring about justice for the team that suffered because of his stupidity. The fact of the matter is that discipline should have come in the form of a penalty on the ice, leading to a man advantage for Minnesota. A suspension to Brown doesn’t help the Wild—it actually hurts them.

Minnesota is already hurting with the potential loss of Pominville, who is listed as day-to-day. Nobody is willing to say it out loud, but it’s likely a concussion, something no one ever wants to hear.

As far as Minnesota is concerned, the only two teams they have to deal with in the race to clinch are Detroit and Columbus. Detroit can reach a maximum of 56 points with three wins, while Columbus can reach a maximum of 55 points with two wins. Minnesota’s two remaining games are against Edmonton and Colorado—two teams that aren’t even close to the playoff bubble. If Dallas can beat Columbus tomorrow, Minnesota clinches without having to play another game. While not as important, a win by the Kings against Detroit would all but secure a postseason berth.

While last night’s victory over the Kings should make the final two games much easier for the Wild, this is Minnesota sports we’re talking about—anything that can go wrong will go wrong. Which means Brown will be suspended, Detroit will beat LA and Nashville, and Dallas will lose to Columbus, leaving Minnesota tied for 8th heading into Friday’s home matchup with Edmonton. Hopefully, Backstrom, Koivu, Parise, Suter and Co. are up to the challenge, because league disciplinarians can’t be counted upon to help this time or anytime for that matter.