The ever-evolving landscape of injury prevention has led to several initiatives that keep player safety paramount in professional sports. For the NHL, that has involved the development of the Department of Player Safety, which reviews and administers discipline based upon indiscretions that occur during the course of play.
This has led to a progressive system in which the league releases detailed videos that succinctly explain why a player was suspended. The hope is to deter future occurrences of the action. However, concerns have been raised that the players aren't the only guilty party, and that blame can be directed towards management.
According to reports from Elliotte Friedman of CBC, as well as Jeff Klein and Stu Hackel of the New York Times, the NHL is beginning to consider levying fines against coaches, managers and/or organizations for dangerous plays. This includes penalties for repeat offenders or multiple suspensions.
Friedman wrote in his "30 Thoughts" column that the proposal is in the early stages of development but detailed that discussions are centering on management being fined after three suspensions, with the amount increasing with future violations.
The impetus for this initiative was spawned by Buffalo Sabres forward John Scott connecting with an elbow to the head of Boston Bruins forward Loui Eriksson, as well as Vancouver Canucks head coach John Tortorella stating that a hit thrown by Alexander Edler on San Jose Sharks forward Tomas Hertl was a hit they teach and will continue to teach. Edler was suspended three games by the league, while Scott has an in-person hearing on Thursday and likely faces a lengthy ban.
The New York Times is reporting that a third of NHL managers are in favor of a discipline system for management, while Friedman indicates an informal poll of eight managers led to unanimous support with the caveat of waiting to hear an official proposal from the league.
The Sabres have taken center-stage in regards to discipline, as Scott and forward Patrick Kaleta both administered dangerous hits that were panned universally. This resulted in many questioning whether the organization should be held accountable in those situations.
Manager Darcy Regier expressed that he would support such a proposal but would prefer the organization -- and not the coaches -- receive a fine, via the New York Times:
"Without speaking to any proposal, I'm much more in favor of the organization versus the coach, if the league thinks it's appropriate to give a fine," Regier said. "The coaches may not even have the ability to determine who's going to be on the team. These are decisions that are made organizationally, not just by coaches."
Buffalo's coach Ron Rolston was fined an undisclosed amount for "player selection" during the exhibition season, when Scott was put on the ice and a line brawl broke out.
The NHL has suspended eight players this season for a total 35 games, which does not account for the pending suspension of Scott. Only four players were suspended through the first month last year and three the year prior, which was the first for the Department of Player Safety.