Sunday, April 15, 2012

Shanaban: Where’s the Consistency?

NHL Director of Player Safety Brendan Shanahan

Once the puck drops on the Stanley Cup Playoffs, there’s no telling what may happen; it’s a brand new season for 16 teams.
While the playoffs are expected to get nasty at times, I don’t think anybody expected to see the animosity and physicality reach this high of a degree.
We’ve already witnessed brawls in two different series. Disciplinary action has already been handed out to four players in three different series. And we’re not even through four games in most of them.
Those four said punishments: a two-game suspension, a $2,500 fine, a one-game suspension, and a three-game suspension.
I’m going to have you watch each of the infractions. Try and match each penalty to each video, whether you know the actual result or not. I’ll have the answers after.

Ready? Drumroll, please!
Video 1: Shea Weber’s head slam – $2,500 fine
Video 2: Byron Bitz’s boarding major – two-game suspension
Video 3: Carl Hagelin’s elbow on Daniel Alfredsson – three-game suspension
Video 4: Matt Carkner jumping of Brian Boyle + sucker punching - one-game suspension
If you guessed correctly, then hats off to you, because from the looks of it, the man in charge of player safety and league discipline – Brendan Shanahan – just spun a wheel to hand out these punishments.
The above videos were posted in the order of which they occurred. Original suspensions and fines on actions should, without a doubt, set precedents should further incidents similar to those occur. It’s a simple system based on law and justice. If we can agree on that, then I see no reason why Hagelin gets suspended three games for the elbow, Carkner gets only one for sucker punching a player who is down on the ice, Weber gets a slap on the wrist.
The biggest problem we are seeing is consistency. What qualifies as a “head shot”? What constitutes a three-game suspension versus a five-game suspension if it’s the same type of infraction? Why does Weber receive a fine equivalent of a $23 parking ticket for somebody who makes $70,000/year, while another gets suspended? It’s all very difficult to wrap your mind around. Watch this hit from Chris Phillips (Ottawa Senators), also from the same game as the Hagelin and Carkner incidents.

Philips received absolutely nothing for that. No fine, no missed time. Not even a phone call. Tell me how that is dramatically (no pun intended) different from the Hagelin hit on Alfredsson, aside from the fact that Alfredsson hit the ice, which I will address shortly.
Back to the other two incidents from the Rangers/Senators game for a moment.
Carkner is a known enforcer who plays with an occasional reckless edge to his game. Last season, he racked up a monstrous 150 penalty minutes… in only 50 games – good for 19th in the league (the 18 ahead of him played nearly full 82-game seasons). Hagelin is a first-year rookie that plays on the New York Rangers’ skilled first line, who barely registered 24 penalty minutes in 64 games this season. If player history plays a role in Shanahan’s decision – it has in the past just by going back to his Twitter page and watching past ruling videos – then apparently that was thrown out the window for this “special” occasion, whatever that may be…
So what gives?
I’m stumped on that one, I won’t lie to you.
From Shanahan’s suspension interpretation videos, it seems that whether or not a player is hurt on the play directs the course of action. That’s one precedent that I’m afraid is going to continue under Shanahan. If that’s the case, players are going to have all the motivation in the world to stay down and act hurt (regardless of whether or not they actually are) in order to get an opposing player suspended. And I don’t know about you, but I enjoy watching hockey, not soccer. Unless something changes, you can look forward to watching highlights like these:

Maybe that’s a little dramatic, but I digress. I understand and respect that Shanahan is attempting to crack down on the illegal hits, as he should be, but he’s simply failing miserably at doing so with any sensical judgment. There’s no proper system in line here, and precedents are seemingly nonexistent.
I sure hope somebody has given Colin Campbell a call to apologize for all the grief he was given over this exact same job.


  1. Also during the Caps-Bruins game.

    At the end of the period, there was a scrumb, and each of the bruins players were going after the Cap's heads, especially Nicky's with his recent concussion.

    Later in the game, Thomas suckerpunched Nicky in the head, then Lucic headlocked him and pulled him down on the ice practically tackling him.

    In OT, Thomas KICKED, yes I said KICKED! Troy Brouwer. No penalties for any of these incidents.

    1. It's things like these that need to be ousted. I saw video of those, as well. There's just no telling what deserves a suspension, and what does not! Sad.