Boston Bruins

Boston Bruins

Nov 20, 2023; Dallas, Texas, USA; New York Rangers defenseman Jacob Trouba (8) in action during the game between the Dallas Stars and the New York Rangers at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Rangers captain Jacob Trouba is no stranger to controversy.

One of the game’s hardest hitters, Trouba’s never seen an open-ice hit he didn’t want to deliver. Those hits sometimes border on headhunting, and can often blur the line between clean and dirty. Trouba’s resume includes knocking both Sidney Crosby and Timo Meier out of playoff games with hits, with Trouba’s hit on Crosby coming back in 2022 and Meier’s coming last spring. He’s even put players on stretchers with his hits.

And there are players who have made it known that they’re not a fan of Trouba’s tactics, with some thinking that he’s hitting with malicious intent and with little regard for their safety.

But to this point, Trouba’s rap sheet includes just one career suspension, which came all the way back in 2017. And to the shock of many, it’ll remain that way despite a baseball-style swing at the head of the Bruins’ Trent Frederic on Saturday.

  • I mean, come on. That’s just absurd.

    What’s been interesting about this is watching the spinning from people who either like the Rangers or dislike the Bruins (or Trent Frederic, perhaps for his run-in with Kirill Kaprizov) trying to say that this was a simple accident because Frederic had a grip on Trouba’s arm or stick or whatever. In no world is swinging your stick — and with that much force behind it — a natural or accidental motion. Especially if you remain up on your feet.

    Oh, and players are supposed to remain in control of their stick at all times. This is something they say in almost any NHL Department of Player Safety video involving a suspension for a high-sticking or reckless stick incident.

  • But instead of a suspension, the NHL Department of Player Safety decided to handle this with a $5,000 fine issued for Trouba on Saturday evening. The league didn’t even decide to move ahead with a hearing or anything of the sort. Just a fine and case closed. Again, for a baseball-style swing at an opponent’s head.

    I always love when they hit you with the ‘maximum allowable’ footnote, as if it truly matters to anybody. Trouba is making $8 million per season. A $5,000 fine for Trouba is 0.0625 percent of his yearly salary, which is like a person making $80,000 per year getting fined 50 bucks. Maybe you feel it for a day or you gotta skip an Uber Eats for a night, but it does almost nothing to actually make you rethink your behavior.

  • Perhaps more insane is that the official four feet away from this incident didn’t make a call at all. His arm remained down. The entire crew’s arms remained down, actually. And the only time they seemed to be interested in the situation was when it came to ushering Frederic away after he was essentially asking what the hell just happened and why that was allowed.

    And here’s the real problem here: If Frederic went down in a heap and acted like he had been shot, there’s a good chance that there’s both a penalty in the moment and a suspension. Just as an example, look at the recent incident involving Charlie McAvoy and Oliver Ekman-Larsson. I’m not going to sit here and try to tell you that McAvoy’s hit was clean. It wasn’t. It was absolutely, 100 percent deserving of a suspension. But I also can’t deny the fact that OEL got rocked, and then spent the next few moments occasionally peeking through his gloves to see what was unfolding in front of him. (I’m not making this up, by the way. Go watch the replay. You’ll see this.)

    So, is this good for the league? Of course not. You don’t want guys selling their asses off in pursuit of penalties and additional discipline. I also hate the idea of ‘rooting’ for suspensions. It feels like the weakest stance possible. The NHL also doesn’t want frontier justice being a part of their game anymore. That much is clear.

    But when baseball swings at heads aren’t being taken care of by anybody, what use is ‘player safety’ and what other option do players have?

  • Nov 6, 2023; Dallas, Texas, USA; Boston Bruins center Trent Frederic (11) in action during the game between the Dallas Stars and the Boston Bruins at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

    Nov 6, 2023; Dallas, Texas, USA; Boston Bruins center Trent Frederic (11) in action during the game between the Dallas Stars and the Boston Bruins at the American Airlines Center. (Jerome Miron/USA TODAY Sports)

    The Bruins and Rangers will square off in Boston on Dec. 16. It’ll be interesting to see if and how the Bruins handle this, and if they’re even allowed to handle it for that matter.

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