The NHL is one of the greatest sports leagues in the world because it is loaded with high scoring, spectacular goaltending, strong physical play, and even fights. Yet due to the league’s tough nature, many players have faced serious injuries due to the carelessness of opposing players for their safety. These moments in the NHL are the worst to see because so many superstars have lost their careers far too early and sometimes, the players who dished out the injuries did not even receive any punishments. These moments need to be lessened in the NHL.
In this article, we will be looking at fifteen specific moments in the NHL where players avoided suspension for both on ice antics and off. For the moments that occurred on the ice, the majority of the victims in these crimes ended up getting injured and some even severely. Another factor in determining who makes this list is if players who have done the same action ended up receiving a penalty around the same time. At the end of the day, these fifteen examples display players that easily should have had been suspended, but the NHL refused to do so.
Nonetheless, here is the list of fifteen examples of times where players somehow avoided suspension.
15 Zdeno Chara Wipes Out Max Pacioretty
Zdeno Chara is the largest man to ever play in the NHL and that is easy to understand. At 6’9’’ and 255 pounds, Chara is a beast amongst men on the ice and as a result still finds success at his old age in the NHL by being extremely physical and displaying his vicious slapshot. Although he plays the game with a lot of class, there are moments that no NHL fans can forget that will always hurt his legacy.
During the 2010-11 season in a game against the Montreal Canadiens, Chara famously pushed Max Pacioretty’s head and neck against the stanchions of the board. The hit was by far one of the worst that the NHL has ever seen and led Pacioretty to have both a severe concussion and fractured vertebrae. Even with the huge injury that Pacioretty received from the hit, the NHL did not punish Chara whatsoever. It still is baffling to this day.
14 Scott Stevens Knocks Out Eric Lindros
Scott Stevens is another player on this list that has to be mentioned twice for his dirty play. In the 2000 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Stevens laid a huge hit directly to the head of Flyers’ superstar forward Eric Lindros. Stevens did not receive any bit of a suspension for the play and left Lindros one of his first major concussions in the NHL.
It is baffling that Stevens hit two of the NHL bests of that era so dangerously and did not face any sort of punishment. Both Lindros and Kariya’s careers fell off dramatically because they consistently suffered from concussions after the hits. Meanwhile, in both the playoffs where Stevens laid these hits, the Devils ended up winning the Stanley Cup both times. That must add a little bit of extra salt for both Lindros and Kariya.
13 Brad Marchand Clips Daniel Sedin
The 2011 Stanley Cup Finals was by far one of the best of the 2000s because the Vancouver Canucks and Boston Bruins became huge rivals in the process. This was the series where Brad Marchand showed the NHL world that he was a very talented player, but he also was extremely dirty throughout the series and made a name for himself as a pest.
Late in the third period of Game 4, Brad Marchand aggressively punched Daniel Sedin after the whistle and did not receive much of a punishment for it at all. Although he ended up getting a roughing penalty on the play, Marchand should have been suspended. He easily could have injured Sedin and after this hit, he has caught clipping players numerous times. Apparently he never learns.
12 Ryan Getzlaf Uses Slur
Ryan Getzlaf is a spectacular NHL player and the main reason why the Anaheim Ducks won the Stanley Cup in 2007. Getzlaf has always played the game on the edge, but has been respectful in the process and not dirty. However, like all regular people, Getzlaf showed a major flaw when he yelled a homophobic slur at a referee during last year’s Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Although he rightfully was given a fine for doing this, it is pretty strange that he did not receive a suspension as well. First and most importantly, homophobia is something that every sport league is trying to rid of and Getzlaf went completely against that. Also, Andrew Shaw was given a game suspension the year before for doing the same exact thing. It is just bizarre that Getzlaf did not face more of a punishment.
11 Sidney Crosby Slashes Ryan O’Reilly
There is no opposing argument that can be given against the notion that Sidney Crosby is one of the best players in the NHL today. Crosby has led the Pittsburgh Penguins to three Stanley Cups and has even won back to back Conn Smythe Awards as the league’s top playoff performer. Yet, Crosby does sometimes can be a bit dirty and get away with it too.
In a game last season against the Buffalo Sabres, Crosby purposely slashed Ryan O’Reilly below the belt, causing O’ Reilly to fall in pain. However, Crosby did not receive any punishment for this action and that is not fair whatsoever. Any time a player slashes someone like that, they should definitely be suspended. Brad Marchand was just a few weeks later for the same crime.
10 Milan Lucic Checks Ryan Miller
Milan Lucic thrives in the NHL because of his spectacular physicality and ability to throw huge hits. His success as a power forward in the NHL is the main reason why he landed a huge contract with the Edmonton Oilers and why he will be in the league for quite some time. Yet, Lucic has gained a bad reputation because he plays the game in a dirty manner at times.
No example fits this description as well as the time that he hit Ryan Miller after the whistle. Miller ended up hurt after the play and went on to call Lucic “gutless” for cheap-shotting him. Although every NHL fan not from Boston thought Lucic deserved that comment, he somehow did not receive a suspension for the play.
9 Alex Ovechkin Boards Kevan Miller
Alex Ovechkin is the best sniper of this generation and he will go down as a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame. Although he has yet to win the Stanley Cup, Ovechkin has easily been one of the top regular season players because of his ability to score a plethora of goals every season consistently. Yet, there is a bit of a dirty side to his game that is often overlooked.
During the 2015-16 season in a game against the Boston Bruins, Alex Ovechkin crosschecked Kevan Miller from behind, which resulted in Miller getting a shoulder injury. The NHL has continuously stated that they have been trying to be far more strict when it comes to dangerous hits. It is just shocking that another one of the league’s top players avoided suspension for something that easily could have been.
8 Colton Sissons Crosschecks Olli Maatta In The Face
Colton Sissons is developing into a very solid two-way forward for the Nashville Predators and there is a lot of upside with him. He definitely is a chippy player who does not shy away from the physical side of the game. That ultimately is what makes Sissons find success in the NHL, yet it is clear that he sometimes takes it too far like many players.
During the Stanley Cup finals last season, Sissons got into a battle with Olli Maatta in front of the net. The play was perfectly normal and fine until Sissons crosschecked Maatta in the faced. This should have resulted in suspension because not only was it direct contact to the head, but it was to a player who has already suffered a major concussion. Yet nothing major came out of it.
7 Brad Marchand Slew-Foots Again
It is pretty amazing that Brad Marchand has avoided suspension multiple times for slew-footing an abundance of NHL players. Yet, as we continue to watch his superstar career blossom, it is apparent that this is a major issue that will probably never cease from his game. Let us take another look at a time when he injured one of the league’s bests with this.
Last season in a game against the Detroit Red Wings, Marchand dangerously slew-footed Niklas Kronwall after an offsides call. This was extremely stupid of Marchand because he already was been suspended for a similar play literally a month before this incident. The NHL struck out big time handling this situation because it is apparent that Marchand did not learn anything.
6 Radko Gudas Flattens Jimmy Vesey
Ever since his time in the AHL, Radko Gudas has made a name for himself for being a hard-nosed, defensive defenseman. Although Gudas is not the biggest NHL player, he is extremely tough and always is not afraid to stand up to the challenge. However, playing with this hardcore style has made him gain a bad reputation in the league and rightfully so.
In a game last season against the New York Rangers, Gudas went out of his way to purposely hit Rangers’ top prospect Jimmy Vesey from behind. The hit left Vesey on the ice for a few seconds and sparked the Rangers team to all go after Gudas. It is shocking that Gudas did not receive a suspension for this relentless hit, especially because it is exactly the kind of plays the NHL wants to rid of.
5 Brandon Dubinsky Crosschecks Sidney Crosby
Brandon Dubinsky has developed into a very solid two-way forward for the Columbus Blue Jackets and is very active in the physical side of the game. It is easy to understand why he is an integral piece of their core, but like all players on this list, it is apparent that he also has moments where he plays the game far too dirty and has avoided punishment.
In a game versus the Pittsburgh Penguins two seasons ago, Dubinsky got very at Sidney Crosby in front of the net. He threw him to the ground and then crosschecked him, which resulted in breaking his stick. This easily should have been a suspension because it was a clear cut example of a player attempting to injure someone on the opposition. Yet, nothing even came out of it.
4 Matthew Tkachuk Slew-Foots Martin Marincin
Matthew Tkachuk is one of the top young players in the NHL and is an excellent addition to the uprising Calgary Flames. Although Tkachuk did not put up the same number as rookies such as Auston Matthew, he still managed to register over forty points, which is great for a teenager. Yet, just like his father Keith, Matthew has already made a name for himself in more ways than one.
At the end of a game against the Toronto Maple Leafs last season, Tkachuk stealthily slewfooted Martin Marincin. It is actually quite surprising that the play did not meet a lot of critcism from the league because Marincin could have easily been hurt and it is something the NHL claims they want to rid of. Hopefully Tkachuk does not continue this behavior as the years pass.
3 Scott Stevens Levels Paul Kariya
Scott Stevens will go down as one of the best defensive defensemen to have ever played in the NHL and that is definitely true. Stevens led the Devils to three Stanley Cup championships during his tenure there because of his reliable defensive work and strong physical play. Yet, it is crucial to state that Stevens was also an extremely dirty player.
During the 2003 Stanley Cup Finals against the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, Scott Stevens blindside hit Paul Kariya and he laid motionless on the ice. This was a monumental blow because Kariya was their best player. Although Kariya would return to the game, this hit started the downswing of his career because of his struggles with concussions. Stevens should have been suspended for this, but of course, the rules were far different back then.
2 Matt Cooke Blindsides Marc Savard
Matt Cooke was a fairly solid NHL player because he was a reliable third to fourth line forward and was effective on the penalty kill. He is most remembered for his contributions with the Vancouver Canucks and Pittsburgh Penguins, but a lot of those were bad memories for opposing fans. Cooke found success in his game by being one of the dirtiest players of his era.
However, the worst hit that ever came from Matt Cooke led to no disciplinary action by the NHL and the end of another player’s career. In a game back in 2010 against the Boston Bruins, Cooke blindside hit Marc Savard after a shot, which led to Savard being unable to move. Savard would have a severe concussion from the hit and although he played a handful of games the next season, his head would never be the same and forced him to retire prematurely.
1 Patrick Kane Allegations
Patrick Kane will go down as the best NHL player from the United States ever. Kane has been a huge force behind the dynasty of the Chicago Blackhawks and the three Stanley Cups they won with it. Yet, there has been so many negative aspects behind Kane’s game, especially off the ice, that will forever hurt his legacy as an NHL player.
During the 2015 offseason, a woman reported that she had been raped by Kane in his Buffalo home. Instead of the NHL taking a huge look at the possibility of this, Kane did not face an indefinite punishment for the allegations. Although the woman dropped the charges, another one claimed that she was raped by Kane in Los Angeles. The NHL should have taken a much closer look at these allegations and given Kane some sort of penalty. Given the circumstance that two women have accused him of rape should have made the NHL more active.