Montreal Canadiens forward Phillip Danault got away with a spear to the throat of Ottawa Senators forward Tim Stützle.
The neck-jab came as the two players were skating side-by-side near the blue line. No penalty was called on the play by referees Kevin Pollock or Graham Skilliter.
— Here’s Your Replay ⬇️ (@HeresYourReplay) February 22, 2021
Here’s the NHL rule on spearing:
62.1 Spearing – Spearing shall mean stabbing an opponent with the point of the stick blade, whether contact is made or not.
62.2 Double-minor Penalty – A double-minor penalty will be imposed on a player who spears an opponent and does not make contact.
62.3 Major Penalty – A major penalty shall be imposed on a player who spears an opponent. Whenever a major penalty is assessed for spearing, a game misconduct penalty must also be imposed.
62.4 Match Penalty – A match penalty shall be imposed on a player who injures an opponent as a result of a spear.
Simply by making contact, though, Danault deserved a major and a game.
While no injury resulted in this case, spearing is inherently dangerous — especially to an opponent’s head or neck. There’s no hockey play to be made here, just a stick shot up high on an opposing player.
Player Safety does have the option to fine or suspend Danault. Even a fine, no matter how perfunctory, would reaffirm that spearing – to any degree – is not acceptable, as we discussed on a recent Scouting the Refs Podcast.
The NHL has issued five spearing fines in the past four seasons: San Jose’s Radim Simek (2/6/21), Vancouver’s Micheal Ferland (8/2/20), Detroit’s Robby Fabbri (12/21/19), Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin (1/18/18), and Detroit’s Justin Abdelkader (12/19/17).
You’d have to go all the way back to April 4, 2017, for the last spearing suspension, when Boston’s Brad Marchand missed two games for a spear on Tampa defenseman Jake Dotchin. Marchand picked up a major and a game misconduct on that play.
Here’s a good opportunity for Player Safety to follow the NHL rule book’s lead and come down hard on spearing, even if it’s just to send a message with a fine.