ANAHEIM — In a highly-publicized incident last season, Calgary star Johnny Gaudreau had his wrist broken by Minnesota’s Eric Staal with a well-placed hard slash of his stick. Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby, the NHL’s preeminent face, took it up a notch by chopping open the finger of Ottawa’s Marc Methot.
As the preseason is showing, the league is responding to those often unpenalized acts by telling players to cut it out.
The NHL is cracking down on slashing in the game and the early impact of that is the plethora of penalties being called in the first exhibition games. The Ducks, who played their first of seven contests Tuesday night at San Jose, will be using the preseason to adjust as are players on every other team.
How serious might the league be when the regular season begins Oct. 4? Referee called 41 slashing infractions across seven games played Monday. It is striking when you consider that many playoff games might not have six penalties of any variety called.
Francois Beauchemin, a 13-year veteran defenseman entering his third stint with the Ducks, has already picked up on the early clamp down.
“Obviously in preseason they’re trying to crack down on all the stuff that they can to try to implement the new rules,” Beauchemin said. “But I think it’s a good thing. Guys are getting their finger and hand broken on slashes. As players, we’ve just got to be more responsible with that and taking care of ourselves.
“It’s one thing to go stick on puck. But the slashes on the hands, those are the ones they want to take away from (the game).”
Andrew Cogliano is all for something that restricts the slashes on the wrists and gloves that can cause injury. But the act of using a stick to swing at an opponent’s stick or hand to separate him from the puck is as old as the game itself. And that has the Ducks’ left wing asking for reason when it comes to enforcement.
“Hopefully they don’t call penalties when you’re getting guys’ sticks,” Cogliano said. “I think that’s the only thing I don’t want to see happen because a lot of times, that’s what turns over pucks. That’s what makes a forechecker effective. He’s on guys and he’s disrupting their stick.
“So hopefully there’s a big difference between slashing a guy’s stick than slashing a guy on his hands or his wrists. I agree with that. Because a lot of times you can be trouble if you take one of those slashes.”
Enforcing that by repeatedly calling penalties…