After a relatively quiet first few weeks of the season, the department of player safety was back in the spotlight over the weekend, faced with decisions on two controversial plays: Brandon Dubinsky's crosscheck to Sidney Crosby's neck and Matt Beleskey's late hit that injured Derek Stepan.
The verdicts: One game for Dubinsky and nothing at all for Beleskey. The reaction, as always: Frustration, eye rolls and plenty of criticism that the league just isn’t doing enough to get questionable hits out of the game.
The department has an important job, and because of that they deserve to be scrutinized. For my money, I thought Dubinsky got off too lightly with a one-game suspension, and I gave my thoughts on the Beleskey hit as it happened. I’d like to see the DOPS hand out harsher suspensions overall, although that's something that will only happen when their bosses -- the league’s 30 teams -- give them the go-ahead to start doing so.
But after we’re done shaking our heads over another round of relatively light sentences, let’s do something else. Let’s take a step back and recognize how far this league has come in recent years. Because, when it comes to discipline and player safety, the current lay of the land, imperfect as it is, would be all but unrecognizable to fans even a generation ago.