Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Continued NHL IN-Justice?

1) I can not recall a season, and now playoffs where more players are being fined/suspended for illegal hits, etc. This season we were led to believe there would be a crack down on illegal hits, especially to the head to help reduce the out of control concussion rate the NHL has seen the past few seasons. The man encharged to dole out NHL justice was none other than Hall of Famer Brendan Shanahan. Certainly his credentials gave him significant respect around the NHL. His initial reign as disciplinarian appeared to be a good one. He put down the hammer hard and fast early on. We commented on it last September: My biggest potential issue turned out to be prophetic: .....will 'Shanny' be equally up front if he has to discipline a star player down the stretch or in the playoffs? Will he continue to rule the same way all season and with all offenders......

2) I don't feel that Shanahan's recent rulings have shown the consistency necessary for the job. The past 2 weeks we have seen instances that should have been by all rights deserving of long suspensions and the player given a mere slap on the wrist (if that). Specifically the Shea Weber head smash of Zetterberg Clearly this met all the criteria Shanahan used earlier to levy long suspensions. The head was targeted with mal-intent. Thankfully Zetterberg wasn't seriously injured, but should that play a role in the discipline decision? Shanahan gave Weber the least he could, a paltry $2,500 fine. Amazing. Then another star Penguins James Neal was involved in not one but TWO separate incidents in one game One of those deserved at least 5 games, but two consecutively automatically makes Neal a repeat offender, no? What did he get? One game!!!! Absurd! His team mate Arron Asham got an appropriate 4 games for his thuggery on Schenn. Why the difference??

3) Now, we understand that Shanahan's job is a difficult one. However, much like the on-ice officiating, the most important factor that players want is consistency. Call the game for both teams the same way from start to finish. Clearly Brendan has changed the way he doles out discipline and it appears that stars are given a degree of latitude that the grunts do not. Its always a shame when it appears that the officials helped decide the outcome of important games. However now it is quite possible that games and series could be tilted or even decided by the NHL head disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan!

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