Kris Letang Hospitalized, Should Shane Doan Face Disciplinary Action?


Kris Letang of the Pittsburgh Penguins was hospitalized with an apparent head injury after being checked by Shane Doan of the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday afternoon. The most important question surrounding the incident is the seriousness of his injury, and whether he will have any lasting effects from it. 

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Letang’s playing career aside, the most important and troubling thought when you see this type of injury is the fact that Kris Letang has a history of migraines, a stroke, and has a family to worry about.

You never want to see a player’s long-term health jeopardized in a sport. The question also remains as to whether the hit was dirty, and whether there should be discipline from the NHL Department of Player Safety.

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While the hit seems fairly light, as Doan didn’t necessarily place a huge hit on Letang, the aftermath is quite difficult to watch. Kris Letang is clearly dazed after the impact with the boards, and looks to be extremely disoriented.

The issue is obviously the vulnerable position Letang is in having just released the puck, and also the area of the ice that the hit occurred, as he was only a few feet from the boards.

There is, as expected, a lot of outrage among the Pittsburgh Penguin faithful that there was no call on the ice, and no sign of disciplinary action after the fact. However, the issue at hand isn’t that Shane Doan should have been penalized. The real issue is that he shouldn’t have been penalized. What do I mean by that?

the hit was absolutely unnecessary and had no bearing on the game as the play had already passed those two players.

That type of hit, otherwise known as “finishing your check”, happens on almost every shift in the NHL. The hit was well within the guidelines laid out by the league as Doan did not charge Kris Letang, and he was within the legal time limit from when the puck was released.

However, the hit was absolutely unnecessary and had no bearing on the game as the play had already passed those two players. This is why I said that the real issue is that he shouldn’t have been penalized. The league needs more stringent guidelines if they really want to protect their players.

Shane Doan was quoted in saying that he wanted to get a piece of Kris Letang to ensure he didn’t get past him. Why? At this point the play had already reached the neutral zone and Kris Letang was a non-factor.

Let me be very clear that I am in no way defending the play of Shane Doan. Doan has a history of what the league likes to call playing on the edge, but a lot of others like to call dirty and unnecessary.

Mar 28, 2015; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Arizona Coyotes right wing Shane Doan (top) and Pittsburgh Penguins right wing Steve Downie (23) fight during the second period at the CONSOL Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Ian Cole of the Pittsburgh Penguins stated that Doan was running around like an idiot the whole game in his post-game comments, and I whole-heartedly agree with him. However, considering the rules and how the game is officiated, why would he face disciplinary action? It was a legal hit that happened in a very unfortunate area of the ice and had a tragic outcome.

The ball is now in the NHL Department of Player Safety’s court. Or we could say the puck is on their ice. It’s time to truly evaluate how important the safety of it’s stars is to this league.

What did the Shane Doan hit on Kris Letang accomplish? It likely ended the season of a Norris Trophy candidate, while Shane Doan is nothing more than an overrated “Leader” that offers little entertainment value to hockey.

Patrick Burke, the Directory of the NHL Department of Player Safety states, “Yes, we saw it”, in his Twitter bio. Well, Patrick, if you see it, maybe it’s time to change it.

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