The NHL came down with their ruling. The hit delivered by Connor McDavid to Nick Leddy on Thursday night, where the initial point of contact was Leddy’s head, was given a two-minute penalty during the game, but a two-game suspension by the Department of Player Safety. Fair enough. Message sent.

Now what?

The immediate reaction will be outcry from both sides of the coin. Many fans of the Oilers and McDavid will cry foul because on a nightly basis, McDavid takes a beating, is on the receiving end of illegal holds and hooks and rarely gets the call. His entire NHL career he’s been dealing with the fact that he’s too good and too fast and NHL referees simply can’t (or won’t) call every infraction against him. The other side of the coin is that McDavid got what he had coming. The hit was illegal, it was ugly and it deserved two games.

The Department of NHL Player Safety said the following:

As the video shows, McDavid is back-checking through center as the Islanders enter the zone on the rush. The puck is moved to Leddy who bobbles the puck briefly before chipping the puck deep into the Oilers zone. As he releases the puck, McDavid comes in front of Leddy’s body, clips Leddy’s head with his shoulder, making the head the main point of contact on a hit where such head contact was avoidable. This is an illegal check to the head. It is important to note that both factors of the illegal check to the head rule are met on this hit. First, the head is the main point of contact. Second, the head contact on this play is avoidable.

All of this is true. The video goes on to explain that McDavid could have avoided the hit, taken a different approach and done more to not make contact with the head. Also true.

The Edmonton Oilers have made their feelings known on the ruling:

Will McDavid actually appeal the decision? If he takes the same approach to this ruling by the NHL as he does to almost every call the referees make — rather the lack of calls they blatantly miss — the answer will be no. McDavid will sit out, serve his time, come back to the Oilers and do his best to help the team go on a run and salvage something, anything out of this season.

It might be too little, too late for Edmonton who can’t afford another loss. Winning without McDavid has proven difficult.

The NHL Better Get it Right Moving Forward

Here is where things get interesting. While fans can debate whether or not McDavid’s two games are harsh, stiff, light, unfair… or whatever other adjective you’d use to describe the decision, the NHL has made their bed and they’d better be prepared to sleep in it.

This ruling goes to show that star players don’t get breaks. Just because this is Connor McDavid doesn’t mean the NHL will go lightly on what was an illegal hit. But, is this a one-way street? Will the NHL start to make the calls for McDavid they refused to make before this suspension was handed down? It only seems fair.

The minute this hearing ended and when George Parros decided to serve the best player in the NHL two games, the next words out of his mouth should have been, ‘Well, if we’re going to punish the best player in the game, we’d better make sure to punish those who break the rules against him as well.’ If that didn’t happen, or if those responsible for making sure the game is called fairly didn’t stand up and take notice here, there is something incredibly wrong with the way the NHL operates.

Not to mention, if this is an example being sent to the players, specifically the stars of the game, that no one is untouchable, there needs to be some accountability for those who target those same stars — something that happens almost nightly in the NHL.