The NHL's department of player safety didn't have to go far when levying some punishment stemming from Thursday night incidents. James Neal of the Pittsburgh Penguins and David Legwand of the Detroit Red Wings were each fined $5,000 for separate infractions in Thursday night's game between the two clubs.
Neal was tagged for cross-checking Luke Glendening in the head, while Legwand got billed for butt-ending Evgeni Malkin.
Here's a look at what Neal did:
What makes the Neal fine seem particularly is that he is a repeat offender, with a record of making illegal contact with an opponent's head. Neal was suspended for one game during the playoffs last season for charging. He received a five-game ban earlier this season for kneeing Brad Marchand in the head.
With that kind of track record, one would suspect Neal to get more than a slap on the wrist for his cross check to Glendening, who was not injured on the play. The Penguins winger did receive a penalty for cross-checking on the play.
This is the problem of suspending to the injury. Though the call on the ice was correct, dishing out a small fine for Neal fails to send a message that the NHL won't tolerate head contact. As the video above shows, Neal actually made contact with Glendening immediately before the incident in question. Neal also gave Glendening a tap before proceeding to cross check him in the head. Was there malice there? Sure seemed like it, which should have triggered at least a hearing. There was none.
Now, let's not let Legwand off the hook. Butt-ending is always a despicable act and worthy of a major and game misconduct. He also got Malkin in a rather sensitive area, which only makes matters worse.
The infraction came near the end of regulation and Legwand put his team in a real bind there. The Wings did hold on to win, however.
Considering the call was correct on the ice, the fine is a little less shocking in this instance as Legwand does not have a disciplinary history. It's still an incredibly dirty play and if the NHL wanted to give him an extra game for it, it wouldn't have been overly strict.
As the NHL's department of player safety continues to come under scrutiny for inconsistency, this latest disciplinary ruling is sure to add fuel to that fire.