One of the few things more surprising than the players' lack of respect for each other is the NHL's complete failure to effectively deal with the situation.
There have been 27 suspensions handed out this year, however only four of those suspensions resulted in a player missing five regular season games or more.
One of the problems with this stat is the suspensions that didn't get handed out. Players that have gotten away with dirty play this year include Daniel Alfredsson on Francois Beauchemin, Steve Downie on Sid the Kid, and one more incident involving a player I will talk about in a minute.
The suspension list includes incidents involving repeat offenders Alex Ovechkin, Matt Cooke, and James Wisniewski.
Surprisingly enough, it is the acts by those three players that garnered the most attention this season.
Alexander Ovechkin received a two-game suspension in December for throwing a knee on Tim Gleason. The NHL followed this up by suspending him for a measly two games for his careless hit that ended the season of Blackhawks defenseman Brian Campbell. It was the best chance the NHL had to make a statement to the players, and they dropped the ball miserably.
Matt Cooke had already been suspended for a head shot on Artem Anisimov of the Rangers. It seemed like a no-brainer when he laid out Marc Savard with an apparent elbow to the head in March. The NHL's decision NOT to suspend Cooke for his second infraction of the season shocked the hockey world.
They stated that because Mike Richards had not been suspended for a similar hit early in the season, they couldn't discipline Cooke...wrong decision guys.
Finally, the NHL's latest chance to let the players know they weren't going to put up with it anymore: James Wisniewski. Wiesniewski's pre-meditated attack on Brent Seabrook was one of the worst kind of hits you will ever see and could seriously injure a player if hit the right way.
The hit was not only retaliatory and pre-meditated but it was also Wiesniewski's second incident of the year after serving two games for an illegal hit on the Coyotes' Shane Doan in November.
In my opinion, the NHL's decision to give Wiesniewski only eight games instead of the rest of the season is the most glaring mistake they have made this season.
The NHL better man up soon or the league is going to be in serious trouble.