OTTAWA - Somewhere Eugene Melnyk is steaming.
The Senators owner has always been a strong proponent of taking headshots out of the game and the latest one hits close to home after the club lost Daniel Alfredsson following a vicious blow Saturday in New York.
Not only were the Senators forced to finish the game without Alfredsson in the third after he took a blatant elbow from Rangers winger Wojtek Wolski, the captain wasn’t in the lineup for Sunday’s Battle of Ontario at Scotiabank Place.
While it appeared the 38-year-old Alfredsson was wobbly when he left the ice at 12:09 of the third, the Senators won’t confirm he suffered a concussion until further tests are completed. But there’s no timetable for his return, either.
The decision by Brendan Shanahan, the NHL’s new VP of player safety, to not give Wolski further discipline will have many in Ottawa — including Melnyk and GM Bryan Murray — furious.
Sources say Shanahan didn’t feel, after reviewing the video, that Wolski’s actions were intentional.
Wolski told reporters in New York after the game “it was a clean hit” and didn’t feel he would be suspended
Apparently he was right.
But that doesn’t make it right.
Wolski was given a two-minute minor as a result of the incident. Even before the puck was dropped against the Maple Leafs, the Senators were certain that Shanahan was going to take the appropriate action.
“They’ll review it and make the right call on the play,” said winger Chris Neil before word came out there wasn’t going to be a suspension. “The puck wasn’t around (them) so that’s one thing. I haven’t seen a replay on it.
“I only saw what happened on the ice. To me, (Wolski) comes at (Alfredsson) and it’s intentional.”
Neil said it wasn’t a smart move by Wolski.
“The puck isn’t around him. It would be one thing if the puck was there. That’s totally different, but if the puck isn’t around him then that’s not a hockey play,” said Neil.
Melnyk told Sportsnet Radio in March that drastic action was needed to take headshots out of the game. He’s also expressed his concerns to commissioner Gary Bettman.
“If it’s an accidental hit that could have been avoided — just because you’re stupid and you just skated the wrong way but you hit the guy, fine, 20-game suspension,” said Melnyk at the time. “If it’s truly accidental and the guy just ran into you, you know what, give the guy a break.
“But if it’s a deliberate hit, you should not be in any game of hockey. I don’t care what anybody says: ‘We need some violence, we need this.’ Go to wrestling. Go to cage fighting. Don’t do it in the hockey game with elite players. There’s no excuse. Zero tolerance. You’re gone. Period. Stop.”
It should be noted Wolski doesn’t have a history for this kind of behaviour, but that doesn’t mean he should get off virtually scot-free, either.
In replays, it looked like he targeted Alfredsson’s head.
You can bet Melnyk has discussed this incident and this decision with Bettman.
There has been a lot of focus on headshots since the NHL lost Sidney Crosby with a post-concussion syndrome in January.
The Senators have now lost an elite player because of Wolski’s act and he’s not going to get anything further? Shanahan might have to answer to Melnyk for this decision.