Opinion: Kane Suspension Proves Broken System


Evander Kane is facing an automatic ten-game suspension for "abuse of the referee" during the Shark's latest game against Vegas Sunday night. His suspension exposes holes in the NHL's suspension system that, frankly, is ridiculous.
Kane is set to take his automatic ten-game suspension for his shove on a referee who was holding him back from another altercation.

In just a matter of seconds, Kane bought himself a ten game vacation from San Jose.

Although this rule can be seen as fair, it opens questions about the NHL's system of player suspension and rule violations.

Two specific cases can be brought to attention from last season. The first being the 20 game suspension of Vegas' Nate Schmidt, who was slapped with his suspension after testing positive for PEDs. The problem? Schmidt tested positive for 7 billionths of a milligram per milliliter of a banned substance in his system. This minuscule amount can be compared to "a grain of salt in an Olympic swimming pool," Schmidt said. This almost invisible amount of a banned substance got Schmidt hit with a massive suspension.

The second case is that of Austin Watson, who pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor assault charge on his girlfriend. This issue also gave Watson a 20 game suspension, until it was ruled down to a mere three games.

Yes, Schmidt did technically violate the NHL's Substance Abuse Policy, and Watson's charge was not directly hockey related. However, these cases show both sides of the problem with the NHL. Schmidt should not have received a 20 game suspension for his test. The NHL was too hard on the punishment. On the flip side, Watson should have received more than three games. The NHL was nowhere near hard enough.

How does Kane's suspension compare to both extremes? It's tough to tell. Did the NHL actually get it right this time? If so, why was it right now over something as relatively harmless as a shove to the referee?

No matter what your opinion of the Kane suspension is, it allows us to look back on past suspensions and realize that the NHL has a legitimate problem with their priorities, and what they view as wrong.

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