Brendan Shanahan — It’s About Time

Where was this all along?

For over a decade fans and players have had to deal with the fingernails on the chalkboard inconsistency and spinelessness of Colin Campbell as NHL’s principal disciplinarian.

Not anymore. The saviour is here and his name is Brendan Shanahan.

Following James Wisniewski’s excessively late hit on Minnesota Wild forward Cal Clutterbuck, Brendan Shanahan suspended Wisniewski for the remainder of the pre-season and 8 regular season games. Let me repeat that, 8, yes 8, regular season games! Yeah, that deserves an exclamation point. Brendan Shanahan explains his decision in this video on NHL.com.

Through 3 separate incidents, Brendan Shanahan has done more for the safety of NHL players than Colin Campbell did throughout his entire tenure.

Colin Campbell exerted about as much authority as a High School hall monitor as Sheriff of the NHL. Campbell’s stepping down, due to “ethical reasons,” during the off-season was long overdue. The NHL needed a new Sheriff in town.

10 games for Jody Shelley and five games for Calgary Flames’ forward Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond for similar looking hits from behind. Now, James Wisniewski.

It’s a revelation!

The last couple of years of hockey have been defined by an overabundance of dirty hits dished out from players with varying but mostly minimal consequences. On top of that has been the ever increasing knowledge of the long-term effects of head trauma and concussions.

Colin Campbell was supposed to step up to the plate and do something about it. Instead, he struck out. Golden Sombrero and all. Every opportunity was given to Colin Campbell to make a statement to the players yet he chose not to embrace it. Colin Campbell made a seemingly easy task, very difficult.

In less than 2 weeks, Brendan Shanahan has confirmed what many of us have suspected all along.

Sending a clear, concise message is not complicated.

Since birth we are taught through reward and punishment. You do something good and you get a treat. You do something bad and you get sent to your room for a 10 minute timeout. No one likes timeout, not even adults. We all want to play.

What happens when a 10 minute timeout isn’t enough? You stay up in your room for 30 minutes. If that isn’t enough then maybe no TV for a week. Does everyone get the idea?

Bottom line, you get punished and you don’t do it again. If you do it again, the punishment becomes more severe. It’s as simple as that. Colin Campbell made that look really hard. As a father himself you would think that he would understand the basic principles of discipline.

It isn’t an understatement to say that Brendan Shanahan could be the saviour for the National Hockey League. In the closing years of the Colin Campbell era, the game was being threatened by the increasing risk of its star players being forced to spend significant amounts of time in the press box rather than on the ice. Sidney Crosby is exhibit A.

As I said in February, selfishly the NHL should be thinking of protecting its players for the good of the league. Hockey, like all sports, is part of the entertainment industry and without its biggest stars the value of the product diminishes exponentially.

With this immediate hard stance that Shanahan has taken, he is undoubtedly saving the current and future stars of the NHL. Not to mention saving countless careers and ensuring the quality of player lives after leaving the game of hockey. The threat is no longer a code red.

Brendan Shanahan understands the straightforward concept that stern yet fair punishment is the only way to stop these players from ruthlessly gunning for opposing players heads.

Moreover, it is sure a breath of fresh air to hear Brendan Shanahan mention in his explanation of James Wisniewski’s suspension that it didn’t matter that Cal Clutterbuck was unharmed on the play.

Halle-FREAKING-lujah!

My blood boiled after reading that part of the reason for Aaron Rome’s suspension in the Stanley Cup Finals was partly based on the fact that his hit “caused a significant injury.” The reasoning makes no sense. I can’t stress enough that the action should define the penalty and not the result.

Brendan Shanahan gets this. This is the type of thing that can make you fall for a guy. I might already be in love.

He also gets that the prior history of discipline should be taken into account when deciding on the appropriate time for a suspension. Watch out Matt Cooke.

Is this guy for real?

If I could create a head disciplinary figure for NHL ’12, I don’t think I could make one as good as Brendan Shanahan appears to be.

Looking back in time, the suspension of James Wisniewski will officially represent the turning point in the NHL’s handling of these goons. But the real turning point should be when the NHL made what looks to be their best decision in 5 years, which is the hiring of Brendan Shanahan as Vice President of Hockey and Business Development and, most importantly, head disciplinarian.

Agree? Disagree? If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, please feel free to reply in the comments section below. Or you can e-mail me at cross_can15@hotmail.com. Also, follow me on twitter @paintstheblack and I will happily return the favour.

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Significant Injury?

Nathan Horton lies on the ice following a late hit by Aaron Rome

Humans are social beings and as social beings our lives are overrun by emotions. Emotions cloud our judgement. Emotions change our perception of what we see and how we react to events.

Naturally, when a person is lying on the ice seemingly unconscious and having to be carted off our emotions get the best of us. No self-respecting person wants to see a person badly hurt no matter the circumstances.

Seeing Nathan Horton immobile for a good ten minutes following a devastating hit by Aaron Rome is a scary sight. As humans, we want revenge on the guy that did it. The Boston Bruins fans showed their displeasure by booing for a considerable length after watching the replay. Luckily, Nathan Horton was reported to have had movement in all his extremities while at Massachusetts General Hospital.

The sight of a motionless Nathan Horton led to a 5 minute penalty for Aaron Rome and a game misconduct. That wasn’t the end of it though. Today, Aaron Rome was suspended a whopping 4 games for his hit on Nathan Horton. The reason given by NHL Senior Vice President of Hockey Operations Mike Murphy was that “The hit by Rome was clearly beyond what is acceptable in terms of how late it was delivered after Horton had released the puck and it caused a significant injury.”

Significant injury?

This is yet another critical error in their method of determining suspensions. As humans, we feel that the length of a suspension should be correlated to how hurt the victim is.

Our emotions get the best of us. The sight of a severely injured player brings out the emotions that we don’t want to feel like fear, anger and horror. The emotion of a seeing fellow human being in distress can bring out the worst in us. Despite the many angles that advancement of technology allows us, the replay of a hit is suddenly far worse in our eyes when we know that the player has been brutally injured.

If you subtract the Horton injury from this equation and look at the hit from an objective standpoint it really isn’t all that bad. The hit is obviously late and is deemed late based on the timing criteria utilized by the NHL. The hit was 28 digital frames (whatever that means) from release of the pass and the NHL standard for a late hit is longer than 15 frames which equals 0.5 seconds. Rome’s hit does not qualify as a blind side, even though Horton is not looking, because Horton is moving in the direction of Rome and Rome simply steps up on him. Most importantly, there is no intent to injure. The elbow in no way flies out and Rome’s shoulder makes contact with Horton’s head because Horton is admiring his pass while smack dab in the middle of the ice.

The hit isn’t pretty but it is nowhere near some of the worst hits we have seen recently in the NHL. Intent to injure with a hit to the head has been a major issue in the NHL, with a terrible amount of inconsistency regarding the handing out of suspensions.

Aaron Rome isn’t one to dish out dirty hits and this wasn’t intended to be one. Rome has been on the receiving end of a couple of big hits in recent memory and has suffered a concussion because of it. Rome’s agent said yesterday that “Aaron told me he was sad to see Horton lying on the ice because he’s been that guy twice within the year and would never intend to injure another player. He hopes Horton is OK and is sorry.” Rome also texted Horton today telling him that it was never his intention to hurt him.

Aaron Rome on contact with Nathan Horton

Now the fact that Rome apologized shouldn’t be a factor in the decision-making process either but it’s a gesture that most likely shows there wasn’t any malicious intent. The replay of the hit shows that too.

There have been too many instances over the past couple of years where players have been on the receiving end of very dirty hits but were not injured. The players who dished out the dirty hits have constantly avoided a suspension of considerable length in large part because their victim was not injured.

It doesn’t make any sense. It doesn’t make any sense that the statement given by Mike Murphy (who has taken over for Colin Campbell temporarily) includes the reasoning that the length of the suspension was determined because it caused significant injury.

The action should define the suspension not the result.

You can “dig” through the archives from a month ago and remember Raffi Torres’ filthy hit on Brent Seabrook. Torres got 2 minutes for interference and avoided suspension. That hit was from the blind side, he was gunning for his head but Seabrook got up and continued to play.

Related: Throw the Book at Torres

The issue here is that if Seabrook had lain motionless in a similar fashion to Nathan Horton than we no doubt would have seen a suspension given to Raffi Torres. It is completely illogical that the same action can result in a different penalty based on the injury of the victim.

The NHL isn’t alone in their ill-fated logic but I guess this is all a part of their endless display of contradictory messages. Contradictory message #243 — Hit but don’t hurt.

There are at least a dozen hits that immediately come to mind that are much worse than the hit by Aaron Rome. Steckel on Crosby, Kunitz on Gagne, Downie on Lovejoy, Downie on McAmmond, Cooke on Savard, Cooke on Mcdonagh, Cooke on Tyutin and well Cooke on pretty much everyone. Listing everyone is pointless because there are just so many but you get the idea.

The city of Montreal wanted blood for all the wrong reasons when Zdeno Chara accidentally nailed Max Paciroetty into the stanchion. Boston fans want blood for what Aaron Rome did. They want blood for the wrong reason.

Aaron Rome is now out for the rest of the Stanley Cup Final and all because his hit caused “significant injury.”

Related: NHL Head Shots

Agree? Disagree? If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, please feel free to reply in the comments section below. Or you can e-mail me at cross_can15@hotmail.com. Also, follow me on twitter @paintstheblack and I will gladly return the favour.

Subscribe to my blog too and you can get the latest posts such as Dirk Nowitzki Hasn’t Been Good Enough

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