June 27, 2020

Should the NHL Department of Player Safety move Brendan Lemieux’s suspension to next season

Lemieux celebrates with Buchnevich (AP/Paul Sancya)

The NHL paused play on March 12th. One night earlier, Rangers forward Brendan Lemieux put a hit on an unsuspecting Joonas Donskoi in a win over the Colorado Avalanche. The NHL’s Department of Player Safety deemed it a blow to the head and suspended him on March 13th.

Lemieux hit on Donskoi

Brendan Lemieux suspended for hit on Joonas Donskoi

Due to the NHL pause no official number of games were handed out and the decision is still pending. As of today, there is still no word on when the determination will take place.

In a statement released by the DOPS it read, “the precise parameters of the suspension will be determined and announced once resumption of play guidelines have been established.”

It has now been weeks since the format was set so why the long delay in announcing? One can only assume the NHL is taking a lot of factors into consideration.

Should the NHL DOPS move the suspension to next season?

Brendan Lemieux celebrates a goal (Getty Images)

While the hit was not vicious, it did occur away from the puck. And although the head contact was unintentional, I was told by a source with knowledge of the situation that it was going to be a three or four game suspension if the regular season did not pause.

Looking at the hit over and over again, I can tell you I’ve seen worse by bigger names like Alex Ovechkin that do not even get a phone call. So this suspension was more on reputation than the actual hit itself in my opinion.

Now the question I have is simply this, all things considered should Lemieux be penalized twice this season? Once for the hit and the other for COVID-19? When the league stopped play, there was some belief they could play some regular season games before starting the playoffs. That is obviously impossible, so why should the penalty be that heavy?

The NHL DOPS could reduce it to one “playoff” game, or they could keep it to 3-4 games and start it next season as an option. If you ask me, that would be the fairest thing to do when you take into account everything that has happened since.

Brendan Lemieux loves New York and playing with an edge

This season Lemieux improved on the impression he made after coming over from Winnipeg at last season’s trade deadline. The 23 year-old tallied 18 points in 59 games playing primarily on a 3rd or 4th line role. He also racked up 164 hits, which is almost 3 hits a game.

When you look at the hit he’s being suspended for through that prism, you start to realize Brendan plays it pretty clean. That’s no easy task for guys like Lemieux who are told by coaches to finish their checks on every play in order to get ice time. Yet, Lemieux has done it quite well and should earn himself a new deal with the Rangers.

In speaking with someone very familiar with Lemieux, I was told he loves New York and in particular playing for the Blueshirts. Of course, the pending RFA with arbitration rights is looking for a fair deal.

It is one he should get because the Rangers simply don’t have many players like him. Players that dance the line between agitator and scorer. Players that teams who win championships need.

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