Remember Raffi Torres' awful hit to the head of Jakob Silfverberg? The one that got him suspended 41 games? Of course you do. With Torres out of the league for the first half of the season, the distinction of player-most-likely-to-kill-someone has been handed off to Zac Rinaldo. He made good on that promise last night with a fabulously dirty hit on Sean Couturier.
Today, the Department of Player Safety announced they won't suspend Rinaldo for this hit. The Broad Street Hockey post I linked to above does a great job explaining why this is an unacceptable ruling from the DoPS — and it's easy to see their point of view. Rinaldo has a history of making late, dangerous and unnecessary hits that put other players at risk. While I agree with Torres' suspension, it's abundantly clear the DoPS and I have a very different idea of what an illegal play is.
What's even more clear is that the DoPS doesn't seem to care about the safety of its players. For Rinaldo to get off without even a short suspension is as clear evidence as there is that the NHL is not interested in keeping these kind of plays (and players) out of the NHL. Forget that they can't even figure out what charging is or isn't, and forget that they're inconsistent in their rulings: the bottom line is that the Department of Player Safety doesn't seem interested in, you know, safety.
In the explanation video, the DoPS says a player's previous history doesn't go into deciding whether or not there will be a suspension. In theory, this is probably a good standard. Making reputation calls is not a great way for a governing body to do business; the problem is that nobody fucking believes this. The DoPS doesn't get the benefit of the doubt anymore and after today...it's easy to see why.
The department made an example out of one of its most notorious head-hunters when it suspended Torres. They had an opportunity to do more of the same today. Instead, they delved deeper into the confusing, inconsistent and useless palace they've created for themselves. That doesn't suck because the Sharks got burned and the Bruins didn't — that sucks because it shows that the NHL doesn't care much about the safety of its players.