Brendan Shanahan is a very busy man. While I am sure he wishes he were in his man cave drinking Scotch and queuing up the season finale of Entourage on the Tivo, instead he is watching video after video (after video) of guys delivering nasty hits in the preseason. On the positive side, he is doing something about it. The preseason started on September 19th and the Vice President of Player Safety has already handed out six suspensions and various fines. The latest was given to James Wisniewski of the Columbus Blue Jackets who has been suspended for the remainder of the preseason, eight regular-season games and will hand over a whopping (to me) $536,585.36 for an illegal check to the head of Minnesota Wild forward Cal Clutterbuck. Brendan Shanahan is the dad of the NHL and he will ground you.
None of the rule changes and promises of enforcement should come as a surprise to any of these players. The NHL Department of Player Safety sent out a podcast to all of the players and coaches and Shanny tweeted it to the masses last week. If you can get through the worst teleprompter reading in the history of video, it gives you clear explanations of the rule changes as well as the mandate for the department.
Or you could assume that I was the kid that always picked up the slack in the group project in school while you were at home watching MTV and have me sum it for you.
Role of the department:
- Protect the Players
- Deal with equipment and safety issues related to equipment
- Administer supplemental player discipline (i.e. Wait until your father gets home.)
That’s right “Protect the players.” It’s the top priority of the department and I believe it. (i.e. It’s for your own good son.)
Extensive coverage was given of Rule 41, Boarding and Rule 48, Illegal Checks to the Head. I tried to capture the exact language on the video but since you all didn’t do your homework, you will get paraphrasing with no promise of 100% quoting accuracy.
Rule 48: Illegal Check to the head. Changes from last year:
- The words “lateral” and “blindsided” were removed.
- They will also analyze if a player put himself in a vulnerable position immediately prior to or simultaneous with the hit.
- The head is targeted and principal point of contact with targeted meaning intentional or reckless.
- On ice penalty is now a minor instead of a major and a game misconduct
Rule 41: Boarding
- Called when someone checks or pushes a defenseless opponent in such a manner that causes the opponent to hit or impact the boards violently or dangerously.
- This rule also contains the same language about placing yourself in a vulnerable position prior to the check.
- An enormous amount of judgment will have to be used in the application of this rule.
Seems pretty simple right? Boarding is a tough one sometimes as decisions have to be made in split seconds. (i.e. Do I trip my sister or let her run by?) But hitting someone in the head on purpose? Yeah. You know when you are doing that. Watch the video and you will see some very clear examples of clean and dirty hits. Of course Chris Pronger and Matt Cooke are in the video silly.
The other thing that is now being considered with these suspensions is whether or not you are a recidivist. That’s right. Recidivism. A RE-peat O-ffender. Get suspended and you make the list. I wonder if they will replay the instructional video for Jody Shelley with him as the victim of a dirty hit while he is pulling out his checkbook to pay his fine for his recent suspension.
I could have summed up the rules in one sentence and saved the NHL a lot of time. Don’t be a jerk. Will the majority of players turn out to be those decent kids who realize they can get their Xboxes back if they follow the rules or will they be the kids sneaking in the bedroom window after curfew until they get caught the next time? I am not sure. From what I have seen so far my bet is on the bad kids. As I click “Publish” the Flyers’ Tommy Sestito, a recent fill-in for Shelley, is already waiting in line outside the mancave ready to take his lumps from the Monday matchup with the Rangers. Pour another Scotch Dad. It’s gonna be a long season.
For links to the video explanations for individual suspensions from the NHL disciplinarian himself, go to Brendan Shanahan’s Twitter. He breaks things down frame by frame.
Topics: Boarding, Brendan Shanahan, Cal Clutterbuck, Chris Pronger, Columbus Blue Jackets, Entourage, Illegal Hits To The Head, James Wisniewski, Jody Shelley, Matt Cooke, Minnesota Wild, New York Rangers, NHL Department Of Player Safety, NHL Rule Changes, NHL Rules, Philadelphia Flyers, Raising Arizona, Repeat Offender, Rule 41, Rule 48, Suspensions, Tommy Sestito, Vice President Of Player Safety