Blake’s Takes: Scheifele Suspension Upheld

Last week’s hockey news was dominated by Mark Scheifele’s hit on Jake Evans that resulted in a four-game suspension. There was a heated debate on Twitter over the severity of the suspension. Scheifele appealed but the suspension was upheld. Outside of Scheifele’s suspension, there were a few other gems in the hockey world that I’ll share with you all. That includes huge steps in diversity and my favorite play of the week

Happy Monday!

1. Mark Scheifele Suspended Four Games

Mark Scheifele has been suspended four games for his hit on Jake Evans during Game 1 of the North Division semi-finals. With about a minute left and up by a goal, Evans chased a puck down in Winnipeg’s end to try and score with an empty net. Evans picked up the puck behind the end line and scored on a wrap-around. The second he scored, Scheifele hit him going full speed, taking Evans off of his feet. Evans’ head hit the ice first and he was carried off on a stretcher with a concussion. Scheifele is eligible to return for Game 6 if there is one.

Here is the hit.

Many have argued that Scheifele’s hit was a hockey play and that he shouldn’t have received that harsh of a suspension. Scheifele appealed his suspension to NHL commissioner Gary Bettman. Scheifele’s appeal was denied. Here is what the NHL said:

The NHL ruled, however, that Scheifele made no effort to make a defensive play on the empty-net attempt, saying he took his hand off his stick and turned his shoulder into Evans. The NHL read the action as Scheifele “conceding the empty-net goal” and that “his intention was to deliver a hard, violent check to an opponent with the outcome of both the play and the game already having been decided.”

I agree with the NHL’s opinion. Scheifele was going full speed into a player that was stationary. If he wanted to attempt to prevent the puck from going into the net, he could have attempted to knock the puck off of Evans’ stick or dove to prevent the puck from going into the net. He did neither. Knocking the shit out of Evans wasn’t going to prevent a goal.

Not only is Scheifele deserving a suspension, but this also was not smart on his part. He’s one of the Jets’ best players. Winning this series is going to be an uphill battle without him.

Lastly, my favorite part of this story is Joel Edmundson’s quote on the matter. This is what he said according to the same article I linked.

“It was a dirty hit,” Edmundson said. “But the league’s going to take care of it. If he gets back in the series, we’re going to make his life miserable.”

Scheifele might just hope the Jets get swept so he doesn’t have to get his brain bashed in by Edmundson.

2. Canada Approves Travel Exemption for NHL Teams

The NHL has announced that the Canadian government has approved an exemption that will allow NHL teams to travel over the US/Canada border without quarantining. This will allow the winner of the North Division semi-final to host games at their home arena. By default, one Canadian team will play an American team in the Conference Finals. Of course, if the Canadian team wins that series, this will apply to the Stanley Cup Finals too.

This is great news for two reasons. First, it will allow the Canadian teams to host playoff games. That’s great for the city and for each respective team. They get to bring in revenue and enjoy the perks of home-ice advantage.

Second, it means that COVID-19 cases are truly declining. The Canadian government has been steadfast in its efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19, especially by limiting border travel. This decision means we’re truly getting back to normal. Hopefully, next year we can return to the divisions as normal and teams can travel freely over the border.

3. Taya Currie Becomes First Female OHL Pick

Taya Currie made history last week when she was selected in the 14th round with the 267th overall pick by the Sarnia Sting in the OHL Priority Selection Draft. She became the first female to be selected in the history of the draft. Currie is 16-years-old and plays goalie. She is from Parkhill, Ontario.

This is the coolest hockey news I’ve seen recently. I’ve written frequently about the lack of diversity in the sport, especially at the youth level. This is another landmark day for diversity in the hockey world. I hope Currie tears it up in the OHL and continues to inspire young girls that want to be considered great, not just for their gender.

4. Stecher’s World Class Championship Assist

The World Championships wrapped up yesterday with Canada edging Finland 2-1 in overtime for the gold medal. The US nabbed the bronze medal after beating Germany 6-1. I wanted to share my favorite play from the tournament. It’s courtesy of a current Detroit Red Wing, Troy Stecher.

This was a slick move by the normally bland Stecher. He only notched three goals and eight assists for the Red Wings this season. Here, he lays down an unreal deke to get past the defender to slide the puck to Andrew Mangiapane for the game-winning goal to beat the ROC (or team Russia).

The IIHF World Championships don’t always get a ton of attention. They do, however, give us some great highlights we can watch on repeat.

5. Gretzky Rookie Card Sells for Record Fee

Like I said last week, no one dominates hockey headlines like The Great One. That still rings true. A few weeks ago, a Wayne Gretzky 1979 O-Pee-Chee rookie card sold for a record fee of $3.75 million. The card was sold through Heritage Auctions

The card has a perfect Gem Mint 10 grade. The previous record fee for a hockey card was when the same 1979 O-Pee-Chee card sold for $1.29 million last December. It’s clear the collect market continues to stay strong even after the pandemic is fading. Of course, the market boomed at the beginning of the pandemic as many people had more time on their hands to dedicate to the hobby.

I’m sure everyone reading this is thrilled to see a hockey card sell for such a high price. During the pandemic, many cards sold for crazy prices, but many of those cards were of basketball players like Giannis Antetokounmpo, Luka Dončić, and LeBron James. I love seeing some hockey representation among the world’s highest-valued cards.

It’s also great to see that many of my own cards probably carry some value that I wasn’t aware of. Like everyone with hockey cards, we want to see our investments appreciate in value. ■

Blake Isaacs is a die-hard Red Wings fan that doesn’t go to as many games as he should. He is also a big fan of 7-Eleven Slurpeees, Chipotle, and all things Michigan State. Follow him on Twitter @bisaacs1995.

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