Ethan Moreau understands that his hit on Chris Kunitz looked bad, understands why he got fined and understands, and appreciates, the NHL's attempt to clean up some of the dirty hits on the ice.
Moreau doesn't, however, believe the process is all that fair.
Fined $2,500 for his hit from behind on Kunitz in the Kings' game against Pittsburgh on Saturday, Moreau said his hit was not excessive and said players increasingly embellish hits in order to draw penalties.
"I've noticed a big difference in the last couple years, especially with D-men going back to get pucks," Moreau said Monday. "I think they just show their back to you now, and they're off the hook. It would be better if they just squared up to the hit, took the hit and moved on. I don't think protecting yourself by putting yourself in a vulnerable position is the way to play. I can't imagine. I would never do that, but it seems like it's almost something that's acceptable now.
"There has to be some repercussion, there has to be some penalty, either for embellishing on a questionable hit or not protecting yourself. What happened with me, it looks bad, I admit it. It looks like it is a penalty, but players definitely embellish it."
Moreau didn't call out Kunitz personally, but Moreau clearly didn't think his punishment fit the crime.
Just over eight minutes into the first period Saturday, Kunitz faced the glass in neutral zone as he attempted to play the puck. Moreau took a stride toward Kunitz and hit him in the back, which sent Kunitz face-first into the glass. Moreau got a minor penalty for boarding and Kunitz stayed in the game.
The league issued a $2,500 fine, the maximum allowed under the collective-bargaining agreement. Moreau did avoid a suspension.
"I definitely hit him from behind, but it wasn't excessive," Moreau said. "I was just trying to finish my hit and it happened so fast. He's looking for the puck and I'm just trying to knock him off the puck. He's a strong guy. It didn't seem like he braced (for the hit). He went down pretty easy. He was out for that shift.
"So I understand their philosophy, and what they're trying to crack down on, but it's difficult. It's a really difficult read. My job is to play physical, and if you pass up every questionable position on the ice, you're not going to be very physical."
Under new discipline chief Brendan Shanahan, the league has been more aggressive this season in fining and suspending players for hits. Moreau said the crackdown has impacted the play on the ice.
"It does," Moreau said. "Now (the league has) said they're going to be watching. That's how I make my living. I've got to play physical, I've got to play that way. You definitely think about it. It's good in a way. It protects players, but I definitely think that what we're seeing now is players putting themselves in vulnerable positions all over the ice."
Kings coach Terry Murray, a former NHL defenseman, expressed empathy for Moreau, a 36-year-old winger who has made a solid career as a physical forward, but said he didn't have an issue with the fine.
"There's a message that is being sent, but again, the players are learning a new way," Murray said. "There's a lot to be read into what's going on around the league right now, but at the same time you can't change your game dramatically, so that you're caught in between, you're hesitant, you're not sure what your role on the team is anymore. What you've been doing for the last 12 years is not the right way, so we just have to figure that part out as we move through it."