Despite cries from his head coach, Edmonton Oilers star Connor McDavid still doesn’t seem to be getting much protection from the officials.
McDavid avoided a potentially serious injury when he crashed hard into the boards during the second period of Sunday’s game after being hit from behind by Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm.
He skated off on his own and no penalty was called on the play at the dismay of everyone.
Based on recent (non) actions, I wouldn’t expect any supplemental discipline from this.
Which is unfortunate. A premiere star of the league barely averted a career-type injury. pic.twitter.com/4DcSvDNGsC
— Brodie Brazil (@BrodieNBCS) January 7, 2019
Oilers head coach Ken Hitchcock has been critical of the league for not protecting McDavid in the past, going so far as to call out officials back in December.
“I’m not going to comment on the penalties, but the stuff that really bothers me is what’s happening to Connor,” Hitchcock said. “We’re a league that’s supposed to showcase our top players – and you don’t want to give them all the freedom – but the tug-of-war on him was absolutely ridiculous and that’s a little bit discouraging, to be honest with you.
“I can see the whack-and-hacking going on when he’s got the puck, but to me, it’s all the stuff behind (the play) that doesn’t allow him to showcase his speed, and if that’s what we want, well, that’s fine, but I think it’s a real disservice to a player like him.”
But this time it’s not just the coach or Oilers’ fan critiquing the league. Here’s what many around the sports world had to say:
Mark Spector of Sportsnet:
“Doesn’t matter who the player is, star or 4th liner. Hard to explain how an NHL ref looks at this play and deems it OK. Dangerous play in dangerous area. Not a good look for NHL officiating.”
Rob Tychkowski @Rob_Tychkowski of Postmedia:
“Right in the numbers. Face first into the boards. How bad a referee do you have to be to look right at this and rule it a good hit?… They are @NHL referees, not Supreme Court justices. It shouldn’t be too much to ask that some of them be held to account for how shitty they are.”
Terry Jones @byterryjones:
“Never been a guy to call out the refs. Over the years, I spent a lot of evenings drinking with them. But how much of this evidence do you have to see to ask what the deal is when it comes to Connor McDavid? Elbow in the chops last night in L.A, too.”
Jonathan Willis of The Athletic:
“I hate to complain about this stuff but the NHL has to call it. Enforcers and team toughness and retaliation don’t prevent it. The only thing that can is officiating.”
Ryan Jespersen of CHED radio:
“This is unacceptable against any player in any league, let alone the best player in the world. The @NHL doesn’t protect its stars, period. 👎🏻”
Ray Ferraro of TSN:
“But here’s the real thing with this play for me. It gets a lot of notice, as it should, because it involves McDavid. But every player deserves better from the league and officials on this dangerous play. Penalty every time ! Most dangerous area on the ice.”
Ryan Rishaug of TSN:
“This was ten times more dangerous than anything that happened to McDavid in LA, this could have been bad. These are the ones that require a major response no matter the situation. This can’t happen without a major ruckus of some sort following.
“A nasty elbow from Doughty last night and this tonight, I’m not even an Oilers fan and I’m pissed 1) where is Milan Lucic, you can’t score anymore you better stand up for your teammates 2) when is the NHL Player Safety gonna start protecting the stars of the game?”
It will be interesting to see if the league speaks out on this. Protecting all players should be the NHL’s top priority.