Defenseman Alex Pietrangelo made headlines in the NHL when he delivered a controversial slash to the back of Winnipeg Jets forward Mark Scheifele’s leg in Game 1 of the Western Conference First Round series in August 2020. The move sparked a heated debate among fans and analysts, with some calling it a dirty play while others defending it as a necessary part of the game.
During the first period of the game, Scheifele was racing for a loose puck when Pietrangelo slashed him from behind, causing him to fall awkwardly into the boards. Scheifele immediately grabbed his leg in pain and had to be helped off the ice. The Jets later confirmed that he suffered a season-ending injury as a result of the slash.
The incident sparked a fierce reaction from both teams and their fans. Some criticized Pietrangelo for his reckless play, while others argued that it was a necessary part of the game and that Scheifele should have been more aware of his surroundings.
Winnipeg Jets head coach Paul Maurice was particularly vocal in his criticism of the move, calling it “vicious” and “intent to injure”. He also accused Pietrangelo of having a history of dirty plays, citing a similar incident in 2019 where he injured Jets forward Bryan Little with a high hit.
On the other hand, St. Louis Blues head coach Craig Berube defended his player, saying that the slash was “just a hockey play” and that Pietrangelo was simply trying to prevent Scheifele from getting to the puck.
The NHL Department of Player Safety reviewed the incident and decided not to discipline Pietrangelo, citing the fact that he had no prior history of disciplinary issues and that the slash was not deemed to be a deliberate attempt to injure Scheifele.
However, the incident sparked renewed debate about the role of violence in hockey and whether such actions should be tolerated in the sport. Some argued that the NHL needs to take a tougher stance on dangerous plays like the Pietrangelo slash, while others claimed that such incidents are simply part of the game and that players assume the risks when they step onto the ice.
Regardless of where one stands on the issue, it is clear that the Pietrangelo slash will remain a controversial topic in the NHL for years to come. As the league continues to grapple with issues of player safety and the role of violence in the sport, incidents like this will continue to spark heated debates and raise important questions about what constitutes fair play on the ice.
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