Rangers captain Jacob Trouba remorseful after high-sticking Bruins' Trent Frederic: 'It can’t happen'

Jacob Trouba was let off with a fine for an incident that caused quite a stir in the NHL world.

Rangers defenseman Jacob Trouba was hit with a fine for a play against the Bruins on Saturday. (Photo by Michael Mooney/NHLI via Getty Images)

The NHL fined New York Rangers defenseman Jacob Trouba $5,000 for high-sticking Boston Bruins forward Trent Frederic on Saturday. The $5,000 fine is the maximum allowable under the CBA.

At first, the decision drew shocked reactions and was viewed as too lenient after seeing Trouba’s stick swing in isolation.

However, the full exchange between Trouba and Frederic casts the league’s decision in a friendlier light. Sportsnet shared a longer clip of the moment.

That clip makes it easier to understand the decision to merely assess a fine, but that doesn’t mean there’s zero room for debate.

Trouba himself owned up to his actions on Monday, saying he needs to be more careful.

“It can’t happen," Trouba said, per The Athletic's Arthur Staple. "Saw the video of it and it didn’t look good… Gotta control my stick better. Take the fine and move on.”

Trouba’s reputation surely added to the reaction around the high-sticking incident. Aside from a two-game suspension for an illegal hit to the head on Mark Stone in 2017, the Rangers captain doesn’t have much of a technical history of supplemental discipline. Instead, he’s delivered many checks that blur the line between legal and illegal, making him one of the league’s most polarizing hitters.

NHL has improved when it comes to penalizing reckless stick use, but it’s still a process

If nothing else, the latest Trouba incident is another opportunity to discuss how the NHL handles dangerous stick work.

At times, the league’s been strangely lax when it comes to disciplining players for reckless slashes and spears. For years, the NHL often handed out fines instead of suspensions for some nasty spears. It’s still a bit too early to tell if March 2023 presented a pivotal moment when Tony DeAngelo received a two-game suspension for spearing Corey Perry (who has been both the victim and the perpetrator of plenty of spears and slashes throughout his rambunctious career).

Over the years, the NHL’s also emphasized protecting star players from slashes after Johnny Gaudreau and others seemed to be targeted (especially during the playoffs).

This latest fine to Trouba might make more sense with a longer look at the event, but it still could be the sort of attention-grabbing moment that allows the league to assess its process and how it protects players.