The National Hockey League and its player’s union appear to be close on a deal to resume the hockey season. When it does pick back up, New York Rangers winger, Brendan Lemieux won’t be playing right away.
After what seems like a lifetime, professional sports are on the comeback trail. Meaningful games are on the horizon after everything stopped due to COVID-19 in mid-March. The League and Players Association have come to a tentative agreement on resuming the sport. A 24-team tournament over the summer to award the 2019-20 Stanley Cup is the plan. The New York Rangers would qualify, but they will begin their restart without a vital player, Brendan Lemieux.
While so much about the tournament is still up in the air, the NHL has a “phased return” protocol to implement once they nail down the “where” and “when” of their return to action. Dispositions of suspensions haven’t made it as far. Lemieux was facing league discipline for his actions in the New York Rangers final game before the break, for a late, high hit to Colorado’s Joonas Donskoi.
The NHL’s Department of Player Safety announced he would draw a suspension, but the length is undetermined. The DPS will wait until the league formalizes their return plan to pronounce a sentence. As a repeat offender, Lemieux is looking at a significant punishment. He has the right to a hearing and appeal, which could take some time.
As one of the lower-seeded teams in the tournament, the Blueshirts will have to play a best-of-five play-in round. Their opponent under the current proposal would be the upstart Carolina Hurricanes. Although he isn’t a scorer, losing Lemieux would be a big blow to the Rangers, especially in a short series.
More from New York Rangers
- New York Rangers Buy-Out Henrik Lundqvist’s Contract
- New York Rangers: Forget Alexis Lafreniere for now, just win
- New York Rangers will have to wait a year for Nils Lundkvist, that’s okay
- New York Rangers: Former Blueshirts defenseman Kevin Lowe elected to HOF
- New York Rangers: All to gain and nothing to lose against Canes
For lack of a better term, Lemieux is part of the team’s heartbeat. On the ice, he gives everything he has on every shift. He also stands up for his brothers in blue when necessary. That’s why his teammates and the New York Rangers faithful who pack the Garden love him so much.
His departure from the lineup will hurt the team’s grit and force someone else to be the tough guy. There are only so many players in the league who would go mano-y-mano in a fight with Washington’s Tom Wilson.
Once there is a time frame for the return of hockey, Lemieux’s suspension will be handed down and it won’t be pretty. At least he and the team will know what they are facing.