By Ken Reed

After delivering one of the most brutal, unnecessary cheap shots in league history, the NHL gave Winnipeg Jets forward Mark Scheifele a four-game suspension.

Yep, that’s it. Four games! Instead of sending a message that the league won’t put up with this type of non-sensical, unsportsmanlike thuggery, the NHL sent a message saying, “No matter how vicious, dirty and disgusting a cheap shot might be, you’ll be able to return to playoff actiion after sitting out a couple games.”

Montreal’s Jake Evans had just scored an empty net goal with 57 seconds left in Game 1 of a second-round playoff series, when Scheifele came flying out of nowhere and delivered a full speed, full-force elbow-shoulder blow to Evan’s face. Evans was down on the ice for eight minutes before being wheeled off the ice on a stretcher. He suffered a concussion on the play and is out indefinitely.

What Scheifele did has nothing to do with legitimate sport. It was closer to a criminal act than an acceptable sports play. There’s no place for an act like that in hockey or anywhere else in the world of sports.

The NHL department of player safety said Scheifele:

“finishes his check violently and with unwarranted force into Evans, making significant head contact in the process and causing an injury. It is apparent to our department that his intention on this play is to deliver a hard, violent check to an opponent with the outcome of the play and the game already decided.”

That’s a pretty accurate description of what happened but the suspension the NHL safety folks dished out certainly doesn’t match the egregiousness of the completely unnecessary blow Scheifele delivered to Evans’ brain.

The NHL needs to do more — a lot more — to rid their sport of all gratuitous violence, especially any acts negatively impacting the brain. If they need any extra motivation to do so, all they have to do is research how devastating a diagnosis of CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy), a degenerative brain disease, is for athletes and those that love them.

Scheifele should’ve been suspended for the remainder of the playoffs, at a minimum. Instead, he will likely be back on the ice before Evans is.

That’s just plain wrong.

Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans


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