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Perreault says NHL failing to protect players from dirty hits

Mathieu Perreault was spitting fire after receiving a blatant elbow to the head by Vancouver's Jake Virtanen in Tuesday's 4-0 victory by the Jets. (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press)</p>

Mathieu Perreault was spitting fire after receiving a blatant elbow to the head by Vancouver's Jake Virtanen in Tuesday's 4-0 victory by the Jets. (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press)

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 16/1/2020 (284 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Veteran Winnipeg Jets forward Mathieu Perreault is taking aim at the National Hockey League, saying they're failing to protect players from cheapshots and dirty hits.

"Player safety my ass," Perreault said Thursday following his team's practice at Bell MTS Place.

Perreault, 32, was spitting fire after receiving a blatant elbow to the head by Vancouver's Jake Virtanen in Tuesday's 4-0 victory by the Jets. There was no penalty on the play, nor was Virtanen called on the carpet by the league for a hearing. He also wasn't fined.

And that isn't sitting well with Perreault, who already missed a stretch of games earlier this season after Philadelphia's Joel Farabee caught him with a blindside head shot. Farabee was given a major, game misconduct and three-game suspension for that

"This is literally an elbow to the face of a guy that didn't have the puck. I see him coming, I brace for a hit. It was a late hit, I never had the puck, and he flicks his elbow to my face. And they're not going to do anything about it. Now I've got to take matters into my own hands. Next time this happens, I get to swing my stick across his forehead and I shouldn't get suspended," said Perreault.

Although he dodged injury on this play, Perreault said it should be the act itself, not the result, which determines if discipline is warranted.

"I don't even know what to say. I can't really protect myself if the league's not going to protect me. I'm the smallest guy on the ice so I can't really fight anybody. The only thing I can do to defend myself is use my stick. So next guy that does that to me is going to get my f-----g stick. And I better not get suspended for it," said Perreault.

The Jets weren't happy with the 23-year-old Virtanen, and captain Blake Wheeler tried to engage him to fight later in the game. Virtanen declined, skating away.

"He's just taking on a smaller guy. If I was a bigger guy he probably doesn't do that because he knows I could beat him up," said Perreault, who is 5'10 and 188 pounds compared to the 6'1, 226 pounds.

"He can throw his elbow around and he doesn't have to fight anybody and the league's not going to do anything about it. Maybe now I should start running around with my elbows up and hitting guys in the face and I don't have to answer and fight anybody and should be alright," he said.

mike.mcintyre@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @mikemcintyrewpg

 

Mike McIntyre

Mike McIntyre
Reporter

Mike McIntyre grew up wanting to be a professional wrestler. But when that dream fizzled, he put all his brawn into becoming a professional writer.

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