Maxim Lapierre deserved more than the five-game suspension he received Friday, but it's not his fault – or Brendan Shanahan's – that he didn't get more.
If you’re angry that Blues agitator Maxim Lapierre didn’t get more than a five-game suspension for his vicious hit on Dan Boyle, be angry at the right people.
Yes, five games wasn't nearly enough for a cheapshot artist like Lapierre. But don’t be mad at chief disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan, who is constrained by the NHL’s collective bargaining agreement in what he can do with fines and suspensions. If you’re going to be upset with anybody – other than Lapierre, which should go without saying – be irate with the people who drew up the CBA. They’re the ones who exert control over what is allowable on the ice.
Be mad at NHL team owners, who in their rush to get a bigger share of the revenue pie continue to abdicate their responsibility to properly police the league. If owners such as Mario Lemieux truly are disgusted by repeat offenders such as Lapierre, they have to recognize a punishment that represents less than 10 percent of a regular season is no true deterrent.
Be mad at the NHL Players’ Association, which for the organization’s entire existence has prioritized money over a safer workplace for its membership. Yes, the NHLPA has the duty to defend a union member such as Lapierre, but that should not mean they have to fight vehemently for his right to continue endangering other players. If players truly want weasels out of their game, they have to take meaningful, structural action at the league level.
Otherwise, I’ll be able to re-file this column – with the names and particulars changed, of course – weeks or months from now. Yes, Virginia, it really is that predictable.
And preventable. If the NHL really wanted to.