September 26, 2011 10 Comments
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.
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.
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