The NHL's department of player safety suspended New York Rangers defenseman John Moore five games for his headshot on Minnesota Wild center Erik Haula Monday. Moore will lose $51,859.75 in salary for the hit, which occurred in the second period of Monday's game. But really, he should be thankful he plays in a league and in a culture that doesn't take harsher measures to curb concussions.
When Moore barrelled into Haula, who had just finished shooting the puck, he clearly had no fear of the consequences for what at best can be termed a borderline hit. But imagine if he did. Imagine if he knew that, as the repeat offender that he was, he could be suspended for a minimum of 20 games. Having that knowledge in the back of his head might not have stopped him from making the same split-second decision, but who's to say it would have no effect? Players (and their families) would be acutely aware of the significant financial penalty they would pay, and there's every possibility their behavior would be modified and the likelihood of a repeat offense would decrease.
Alas, the league and NHL Players' Association chose not to get tougher on player safety penalties during the most recent collective bargaining agreement, and so the player safety department doesn't possess the teeth necessary to give players a true scare.
Moore's salary this season is $850,000, so the $51,000 and change he's losing isn't the equivalent of a simple parking ticket for someone like you or I. But is it enough? Let's put it this way: the two playoff games he was suspended last spring for a nearly identical play was such a deterrent, it took him all of 14 games for him to reoffend this season.
Nobody hopes Moore changes his ways and the league continues to improve players' odds of not suffering a concussion over the course of their career more than I do. But something tells me he hasn't made his last appearance in department of player safety suspension videos.
There's still not enough of an institutional opposition to his reckless behavior to make him stop.