It's hard to tell who was more stunned after the latest cheap shot in the NHL. Was it Patrick Eaves, the recipient of a two hander to the side of his head during the Winter Classic on Wednesday, or the legions of hockey fans who were left to wonder how a flagrant foul committed by repeat offender Joffrey Lupul didn't draw a suspension from the Department of Player Safety?
Not that the Toronto forward got off scot-free after his lumber delivery. Lupul was fined $10,000 by the DOPS today. That's the maximum fine allowable under the CBA and roughly what he makes over the course of three shifts.
Doesn't quite feel like enough, does it?
The pieces were all in place for a suspension. It was an unprovoked attack (although Lupul had just been hit by Detroit's Jakub Kindl a moment earlier). There was head contact. There was an injury. (Eaves had to have his jaw reset, which just sounds all kinds of painful.) Lupul has done this before, earning a two-game suspension last season for a head shot on Tampa Bay's Victor Hedman. And on top of all that, his latest transgression happened during the league's premier event and in front of the largest TV audience to witness a Winter Classic (8.2 million in the U.S. and Canada).
So why no suspension? The fact that Eaves avoided a concussion probably played into it--it's clear that the severity of injury plays a significant role in how the DOPS dispenses justice. It makes for a lousy standard, but no one should be surprised by it anymore.