WINNIPEG - If there's anything I have learned over the past 18 months, it’s that I can’t change what I can’t change and not to complain about it. No matter how ridiculous things might be. But yesterday, the NHL set a new level of unbelievability. Winnipeg Jets forward Mark Scheifele was suspended for four games for his hit on Montreal Canadiens forward Jake Evans in Game 1.
The Department of Player Safety explained in a video that Scheifele's play was considered charging due to the distance travelled to hit an opponent.
"Scheifele, moving with excessive momentum gained from traveling a considerable distance, finishes his check violently and with unwarranted force into Evans, making significant contact in the process and causing an injury." The DPOS determined that Scheifele's intention was not to make a play on the puck. "It is apparent to our department that his intention on this play is to deliver a hard, violent check to an opponent with the outcome of both the play and the game already having been decided," they went on to explain.
Now, I wasn’t in the room to hear what Scheifele told them, so unless the league has a psychic on the committee, I’m not sure how his intention was “apparent” because it sure wasn’t in any of the replays I’ve seen. He was the club's scoring leader with 63 points in 56 regular-season games with just 12 penalty minutes. Over his entire career, he averages less than 24 penalty minutes per season. He’s never been called on the carpet before. In a span of a few months, we have seen little to no action taken by the league on repeat offenders Tom Wilson and Ryan Reaves, but somehow former Montreal Canadien turned head of the NHL’s Department of Player Safety George Parros decides to lower the boom on Scheifele?
There is a game tonight, and the Jets (who did not have any success last year in the play in tournament without Scheifele) must regroup and refocus. Winnipeg’s Paul Stastny missed Game 1 with an undisclosed injury and is day to day. Defenseman Dylan DeMelo status for tonight is unknown. Jets will need big games from Nikolaj Ehlers, Kyle Connor, Adam Lowery and Mathieu Perreault, and the veteran leadership of Blake Wheeler to not let the emotions of being dealt a low card from the NHL take away from the matter at hand. The Jets must win tonight, and dedicate the win to Mark Scheifele.