While I am always one for conspiracy theories, I won’t be crying wolf when it comes to Anti-Ranger theories around the NHL. What I will gladly complain about is the absolutely inconsistent and absurdity with which NHL Senior VP of Player Safety Brendan Shanahan has disbursed suspensions in the 2012 playoffs. There has been a record amount of fighting and hard and illegal hits this post season and the NHL exec has not shielded away from laying down the law. I used to work one floor away from the NHL and often ran into Shanahan in the elevator or lobby, if I saw him now; I would probably punch his lights out. I have absolutely no problem suspending players who deserve it; but I cannot rightfully justify the inconsistency we have seen in the playoffs.
The playoffs have been brutal with a handful of big name incidents with very varying and puzzling consequences.
1. Matt Carkner was suspended 1 game for physically assaulting a defenseless Brian Boyle.
2. Carl Hagelin was suspended 3 games for an illegal to the head of Daniel Alfredsson.
3. Shae Webber was fined $2,500 for taking Henrick Zetterberg’s head and smashing it into the boards.
4. Andrew Shaw was suspended 3 games for his collision with Mike Smith.
(ALL VIDEOS CAN BE SEEN AT NHL.COM)
Take a look at these four instances and please tell me what is wrong with this picture. In two instances we have two players with absolutely no history of any violence or malpractice in the NHL who are suspended for numerous games for hitting 2 major players. Hagelin’s hit clearly looked like there was some intent but clearly no intent to injure and if you look at Shaw’s play he had nowhere to go, Smith didn’t defend himself and Shaw tried to get out of the way. Both of these players had no history of any malpractice. In the other two cases, we have absolute intent to hurt someone violently. Both Weber and Carkner performed horrible acts that outside the rink would be cause for assault charges. If you don’t believe me please watch the video. Webber literally takes Zetterberg’s head and smashes it into the boards while Carkner sucker punches Boyle 3 times in the head before throwing more punches on the ground.
How in any way, shape, or form are these suspensions fair. Please be aware, I am not necessarily complaining that Hagelin or Shaw should have received less time off, I simply feel that the other two should have received much greater punishments.
A few theories I have heard and why they are wrong.
1. History of Violence
For those who say history of violence should play a role in the decision making just take a look at Carkner. He already has a history of suspensions with the NHL and once again was an aggressor to physical assault on the ice. So the fact that he only received one game makes no sense at all. For those who say that violence shouldn’t play a role at all then what is the whole point of suspending someone one-three games for such violent hits if you will never add onto the suspensions for the history of violence. If Carkner and Webber find out their criminal records will be wiped clean after every suspension then the entire focus of player safety is garbage.
2. Head injury
Some are saying that the major suspensions were worse because they resulted in head shots. All I will say is that Boyle was punched 4 times in the face and Zetterberg’s face was smashed into the boards. Do I really need to explain this to you?!?!?
3. Resulting Injury
The biggest argument I have heard for why these suspensions actually make sense is that in the case of Hagelin, Alfredsson had to leave the game while Boyle and Zetterberg continued playing. This is the most ludicrous argument I have ever seen. First of all, to completely disprove the theory, Alex Smith suffered no major injury after being hit by Andrew Shaw. So any explanation of why he got 3 games makes no sense. Second, I feel the entire premise of the resulting injury deciding the suspension as idiotic. If McSorely slashed someone in the neck but that player miraculously was able to play the next day are you going to tell me that he should only get 1 game. Just because Zetterberg and Boyle have hard heads and strong faces doesn’t make what the opposing player did any less severe. So it doesn’t make sense how Hagelin and Shaw’s actions are deserving of harsher penalties than Weber and Carkner.
In Conclusion, I don’t understand the NHL’s ruling in these suspension cases and I hope for the sake of the NHL and its fanbase, Brendan Shanahan and the NHL figure out how to be consistent and fair in their suspensions. Let’s Go Rangers!