For the last several years, the NHL’s Department of Player Safety has released informational videos explaining the reasoning behind any discipline that rises to the level of suspension. The aesthetics of these videos are consistent and, by this point, quite familiar: A calm narrator summarizes the events in granular detail over slow-motion video, then covers why this is a violation of hockey rules, and finally ends with a graphic recapping the key points and adding whether or not the player has a history of punishment by the NHL.
Another consistent aspect of these videos is the controversy and debate that surrounds these decisions, but in the case of People v. Lemieux, the announcement of a five-game suspension was accompanied by something new: laughter.
For the unaware, this all started in the third period of Saturday night’s game between the Los Angeles Kings and the Ottawa Senators. During a little scrum after a whistle, L.A.’s Brendan Lemieux and Ottawa’s Brady Tkachuk tied up and fell down to the ice together. As officials tried to stop the scuffle, Lemieux felt Tkachuk’s hands near his teeth and bit down, drawing blood. Tkachuk reacted with the shock one would expect of a person caught between the forceful teeth of another man, and the image of the Senator showing the officials his maimed hand made the moment instantly legendary.
In Tkachuk’s postgame comments, he called Lemieux, in order: a bad guy, a bad teammate, a joke, gutless, and “a complete brick head.” The stoic narrator on the DoPS video doesn’t lower himself to that level of entertaining name-calling, but his description of events make Lemieux seem like a dumb goofball nonetheless. You can watch the entire explanation here, but this is a bit that I’ve highlighted specifically for its impressive attention to detail and for the way it rejects Lemieux’s excuse of He punched me in the tooth.
“The video shows evidence of a biting motion by Lemieux onto Tkachuk’s hand consistent with the puncture marks that were identified postgame,” the narrator explains.
“This is not a hockey play,” he deadpans.
The video closes with perhaps my all-time favorite graphic from the NHL, which contains just four beautiful words: “Key Points,” “Biting,” and “History.”
I hate to spoil the minimalism, but there’s just one thing I would add:
Really, that’s all you need to know.