TAMPA -- Citing the high-profile nature of the suspension and the desire from some quarters for expanded explanation, NHL senior vice president of player safety George Parros specifically addressed the recent suspension of Anaheim Ducks forward Andrew Cogliano during his report to the NHL Board of Governors on Saturday and then discussed it with reporters.
In part because it produces detailed videos to explain all of its suspensions, the NHL Department of Player Safety rarely addresses specific incidents publicly, particularly in their immediate aftermath. Parros said the Jan. 18 two-game suspension of Cogliano for interference was different because of the attention it received owing to it ending the player's 830-game ironman streak.
Cogliano's suspension for interference on Los Angeles Kings forward Adrian Kempe ended his streak of 830 consecutive games played, which is the fourth longest streak in NHL history behind Doug Jarvis (964), Garry Unger (914) and Steve Larmer (884).
Video: Parros stands by Cogliano suspension
In addition, Parros, in his first season as the head of the player safety, is a former Ducks teammate of Cogliano and considers him a friend.
"I can't describe to you how tough it was, but this is the job I signed up for," Parros said. "I feel like we made the right decision and we have no problem explaining our decisions as a department. We try to do it through our videos that we send out to the media and everybody else to explain the situation, how we thought about things, but sometimes certain circumstances arise where more explanation is needed. So that's partly what that was about today. It was a very tough thing to do, but I think we went about it the right way, like we always do, and that's where we find our consistency."
Parros said the decision to suspend Cogliano was made after a thorough review of comparable incidents that also resulted in suspensions. He said the tardiness of Cogliano's interference hit on Kempe was later than most the department has had to consider.
"Anytime we see interference [incidents] with significant head contact, it's a suspension," Parros said. "Anytime we see interference that late with significant head contact, it's been a suspension. This one, the Cogliano interference itself, was among the very latest we've seen. There was significant head contact. We have all sorts of comparables, players suspended for hits that didn't occur as late as Cogliano's with zero head contact."
Video: Cogliano suspended two games for interference
Parros said he understands why some people are emotional about Cogliano's suspension because of how it ended his potentially historic streak. In fact, following the meeting, Parros had a long and at times animated discussion with Ducks senior vice president of hockey operations David McNab, directly in front of media members in attendance at the meeting.
"I wanted to go to him," Parros said. "It's important that he knew, and anybody else knows, that I'm not avoiding this issue. It was something very difficult and challenging. Andrew Cogliano had it much worse. His week was much worse than my own. I know that. It's all very unfortunate, but I wanted Dave to know that I'm very happy to talk about any of this. We're not always going to agree. No one ever does with our department, but I'm happy to answer any questions and have discussions like that so players know that that's our stance. We want them to understand what we're doing because if they don't understand what we're doing, there's an issue there. This department prides itself on its transparency and that's something we always strive for."
Parros said he also addressed with the Board the reasons Kings forward Dustin Brown was fined $10,000 instead of suspended for cross-checking Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Justin Schultz on Jan. 18.
Parros said his department understood there was an outcry for a suspension for Brown in the aftermath of Cogliano's suspension, but he wanted to go over the reasons the two incidents are not comparable.
"Anytime you do have a high-profile suspension like we did with Cogliano, the next one gets a lot of attention as well, and people want to draw comparisons immediately afterward," Parros said. "I think it's pretty natural to want to do that.
"The Brown incident and Cogliano incident are two different animals. It's apples to oranges, really. Cogliano's was an interference with significant head contact. Dustin Brown's was a cross-checking incident. It's very natural to want to compare the two and the forces involved in the situations, but they're quite different. With Dustin Brown, we examined all sorts of things … and at the end of the day the force doesn't really compare at all with any of the cross-checking or boarding suspensions we've had in the past. He was subject to a hearing, got fined the maximum amount allowable by the [collective bargaining agreement] and compared to other plays like that one, it's a stiffer fine than usual."