Zac Rinaldo won't be suspended for delivering an illegal check against the Flyers on Wednesday night. That's the announcement from the NHL's Department of Player Safety this afternoon, and it's extremely underwhelming.
Patrick Burke of the DoPS says that Rinaldo didn't hit any of four criteria they look for when determining whether to suspend a player. They say he kept his elbow tucked, it wasn't interference, it wasn't an illegal check to the head, and it's not charging.
The league is right that it wasn't elbowing or interference. Illegal contact to the head is a gray area though, because while Couturier's head isn't the principal point of contact, it does appear that Rinaldo had "unnecessary extension of the body upward." It's close, and in the gray area in my opinion.
More egregiously, Burke states at the beginning of the video that "we support the call made by the official on the ice" on this play, but later goes on to note that the hit wasn't charging. The call on the ice was a five minute major and a game misconduct for charging. So which is it? I guess it makes sense that there's a different bar for supplemental discipline on a charging penalty, but where's that threshold? And at what point does a player's history impact that threshold?
Burke explains in this video that "while Rinaldo has an extensive history of supplemental discipline, that history only comes into play after it's been determined that a check is worthy of supplemental discipline. The hit itself is evaluated on its own merits, not on the player delivering a check."
When it comes to players like Rinaldo, or Raffi Torres -- who was suspended 41 games earlier this month for a terrible hit to the head -- you can't just view hits in a vacuum. You have to consider the player. With Torres banned for half a season, Rinaldo is easily the most dangerous player in the NHL right now. How that's not taken into consideration is baffling.
Here's the full explanation video: