Mark Madden: NHL is its own worst enemy, allowing stars and skill to be neutralized

The New York Rangers have been eliminated from the NHL playoffs.

It’s a sad day. Hockey without heads getting targeted just isn’t hockey.

But the Rangers gave themselves a proper send-off in their Game 6 exit at Tampa Bay: Jacob Trouba did not quite get nine heads in a duffel bag this postseason, but he clocked Corey Perry on Saturday when the puck was nowhere near. Alexis Lafreniere nearly took Victor Hedman’s melon clean off with a drive-by chicken wing.

Neither Trouba nor Lafreniere was penalized.

These hits invoke anger and frustration. The lack of punishment even more so.

But what’s further inexcusable is the institutional cover-up of such shenanigans by the so-called analysts on TNT and ESPN.

ESPN’s Ray Ferraro leads the lunacy. He compared the no-call on Trouba in Game 6 to a missed holding infraction in Game 5. To Ferraro, Trouba’s hit was mere interference.

Video is parsed. The least offensive angle is shown at the least offensive speed. Hockey types tell us these are good hits, and this is just how hockey is, especially in the playoffs.

What if somebody camped outside the NHL offices in New York, and when commissioner Gary Bettman was coming or going, somebody elbowed him in the head right there on the sidewalk?

When the police came, the perpetrator could explain, “Hey, that’s just hockey. Jacob Trouba keeps doing it, and Ray Ferraro says it’s OK. ”

What if that happened to George Parros, the ex-goon who serves as the NHL’s dean of discipline? (Get it right the first time. Parros is a big, tough guy.)

Hockey being its own worst enemy never ceases to amaze. How the NHL allows stars and skill to be neutralized.

Trouba isn’t dumb. If he did not exploit hockey’s laissez-faire attitude toward blows to the cranium, he’d be half as valuable. Trouba would be a bottom-pair defenseman.

The solution is simple: Any head shot should be an ejection and suspension, with the latter increasing exponentially for repeat offenders. Take intent out of the equation. If every high hit is severely punished, “accidents” will disappear.

Do not pay lip service to player safety. Do more to legislate it.

The problem is obvious: The NHL is run by the general managers, who want to keep the standings tight from top to bottom by way of staying employed.

That’s why we have the loser point for overtime and shootout defeats: It helps create said said logjam.

So does barbaric play nullifying talent.

The owners run the NFL. That’s why everything tilts toward offense. NFL owners sell their game by giving the fans want they want. That’s where the money is. NFL owners do not need to protect their jobs. They own the store.

NFL owners would see more value in Sidney Crosby than in Trouba and would administer hockey accordingly.

The NFL also micromanages its announcers. The NHL lets too many of its talking heads be old-school dopes. (Though none as bad as the canceled Mike Milbury.)

Sometimes karma gets it right.

Colorado’s Nazem Kadri is likely to miss the Stanley Cup Final because of a broken thumb suffered when he was hit illegally by Edmonton’s Evander Kane during the Western Conference final. (Kane was suspended for a game.) It would be Kadri’s first Stanley Cup Final. Kadri was previously excluded because he played 10 seasons for Toronto.

Kadri has been suspended six times, is notoriously cheap and knocked St. Louis goalie Jordan Binnington out of this year playoffs via a questionable collision.

You reap what you sow. Chickens coming home to roost never did make me sad. They always made me glad.

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