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Shanahan has big decision to make with Keith elbow

Mar 23, 2012, 8:00 AM EDT

brendan-shanahan Getty Images

Brendan Shanahan and the NHL’s disciplinary decision-makers face a big call whenever they determine a proper punishment for Duncan Keith regarding his elbow on Daniel Sedin.

The Chicago Blackhawks defenseman is a one-time Norris Trophy winner while Daniel came just short of winning a Hart Trophy like his brother Henrik last season. Combine the high-profile status of the two stars, Sedin’s indefinite absence and murmurs of it being a premeditated hit and it only makes sense that Nick Kypreos reports that the meeting might come “much later” than the original afternoon appointment.

The Vancouver Canucks already won a game (2-1 against the Dallas Stars last night) with Daniel Sedin on the sidelines, but the Blackhawks won’t play again until Sunday. Shanahan might want to take advantage of that gap, as The Globe & Mail’s David Ebner points out the high stakes.

The decision on Keith will be one of the bigger calls this season by NHL senior vice-president Brendan Shanahan and the newly created department of player safety. The Keith-Sedin situation involves two of the league’s best players and what appears, at least on tape, to be a fairly deliberate elbow to the head.

The NHL appeared to endorse the staged brawl between the New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils on Monday, playing highlights prominently on NHL.com. Then came the NFL on Wednesday and its hammer on the New Orleans Saints for three years of bounty hunting. While the situations vary in severity, the NFL was unequivocal in its decision. The NHL’s enforcement, on ice during games, and in head-office reviews, seems to ebb and flow.

In other words, this is a chance for Shanahan to make a statement, although one can bet it won’t be anywhere on the suspending a Super Bowl-winning coach for a full season level.

While we await Shanahan’s tough call, share your thoughts. What kind of punishment does Keith deserve? Will this decision become a “yard stick” for future calls?

  1. habsman - Mar 23, 2012 at 9:19 AM

    Is an elbow to the head in the playoffs any different than an elbow to the head in the regular season? Shanahan seems to thinks so. Why should a player receive a lesser punishment for inflicting an injury on an opponent because its the playoffs? Why should a players suspension be determined by his importance to his team? Sould better players receive less punishment?

    So if Keith is suspended for five games, and the Hawks lose all five, who is responsible for effecting the outcome of these games? The league for imposing the suspension, or Keith for his deliberate attempt to injure?

    Here is where Shanahan is moving into dangerous territory. He is starting to base his punishment on the possible effect it will have on the teams. Instead, he should be putting the onus directly on the players for their actions.

    • dropthepuckeh - Mar 23, 2012 at 11:08 AM

      Clearly this is never going to be completely resolved as there is a lot of subjectivity and many variables to consider, not the least of which is human error. Another difficult thing to factor in is the intent to injure (unless its the NFL and they write it down, genius). Also, what about the severity of the injury? There are hits and cheap shots that happen all the time that might be deemed suspension worthy but the play continues because nobody was hurt or no penalty was called. Should the toughness of the player who was hurt also be considered?? Rhetorical question obviously but some guys get hit in the face and don’t blink and others look like they got shot when they catch a stick in their skates. Can you determine a suspension based on how long a player is injured?

      I don’t think it will ever be resolved as depending on which side of the play you sit, two people can see the exact same thing and have vastly different impressions of what occurred – but everyone on here probably already knows that!

    • crmgoodness - Mar 23, 2012 at 3:39 PM

      We’ve secretly replaced your habsman with a poster that makes a coherent argument and doesn’t include the words “Collie”, “Sucker” or “Karma”…let’s see if anyone notices.

      Your points are salient and well thought out and I actually agree.

      Congrats on Roy and Hartley…the habs might actually be relevant again

      • habsman - Mar 23, 2012 at 3:43 PM

        You better check other posts before patting me on the back. But thanks anyway.

  2. comeonnowguys - Mar 23, 2012 at 9:28 AM

    I’ve already wasted enough time yesterday blathering on here about it, but the only person on that team whose absence would lead to a five-game skid is already out with a concussion.

    Oh, I’m sorry, “upper body injury.”

  3. kcprof926 - Mar 23, 2012 at 10:30 AM

    Why is no one talking about the cheap hit by Sedin on Keith. If Keith goes down we are looking at a Sister suspension

    • comeonnowguys - Mar 23, 2012 at 10:41 AM

      Because, while dirty and featured in any other game, it’s simply not as severe. It’s just not.

      Though if they wind up throwing the book at Keith, they need to throw a chapter or two at Sedin.

  4. kbmorgan1 - Mar 23, 2012 at 11:08 AM

    Sadly for years the Twins have been targets, it’s simply not in their game to retaliate. This leaves them open to abuse by other teams and until recently, the Canucks did nothing to protect them. Neanderthal fans from other cities gleefully hurl insults at them like they were second rate players, yet both have won scoring titles and are considered to be two of the best players in the game (outside of Chicago and Boston).
    It seems the NHL is finally taking notice. Too bad it’s so late. When the NFL protects it’s star players better than the NHL, it’s a sad commentary on the state of the game.

    • dropthepuckeh - Mar 23, 2012 at 1:09 PM

      Retaliate? Sedin threw the first elbow lets not forget. As much as every Canuck’s fan would love to have us believe the twins are infallible, they disgrace the game in their own way – namely diving and pretending to draw penalties. There is not a lot of class in that behavior. While this hit was definitely illegal and dangerous and punishable, lets not get carried away with Vancouver righteousness. Also last time I checked, hitting was a part of hockey. If the twins don’t like it then I’m sure there is an adult league or European team that would pay them to skate and dance and generally look pretty.

  5. merchaholic - Mar 23, 2012 at 11:51 AM

    Well if Sedin get’s suspended as well it looks like he’s already sitting his games out thanks to Keith. :)

  6. wingsdjy - Mar 23, 2012 at 1:11 PM

    My thoughts on how a punishment should be levied:
    1) The offending player should sit out the same amount of time as the injured player (the status of whether or not the injured player is ready to go would be determined by an independent doctor employed by the league)
    2) Once the injured player is cleared to play, the offending player then starts to serve his Shanaban

    This would cut down on the intent to injure issue, and would only come into play on egregious hits outside of normal play (head-targeting, etc).

  7. islandersfan - Mar 23, 2012 at 1:21 PM

    Keith definitely should be suspended, (And Sedin’s hit needs some attention too though it’s severity is far less). Helping Keiths cause is he is not a repeat offender to my knowledge and that I don’t believe the elbow portion of the hit was intended. That said he was nowhere near the puck, clearly intended on hitting him hard, and showed hideous technique in hitting. I’d say 2-5 games for Keith (My call is 3) and Sedin gets a fine

  8. jmbates10 - Mar 23, 2012 at 2:03 PM

    10 games…..want to get rid of those type of hits……give out stiff penalties. The NHL has dilly dallied for years

  9. murtdurt - Mar 23, 2012 at 2:16 PM

    5 games. Minimum

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