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Ex-NHL referee on Weber-Zetterberg head smash: “Optically horrible and potentially dangerous”

Apr 13, 2012, 4:43 PM EDT

weber zetterberg

Former NHL referee Kerry Fraser has weighed in on the most controversial play — and ruling — of this young postseason: Shea Weber‘s head-smash of Henrik Zetterberg at the end of Nashville’s 3-2 win over Detroit in Game 1.

The incident has caused an uproar, mostly for the lack of punishment levied against Weber. He received a two-minute roughing minor (as time expired, so no subsequent Detroit power play) and was issued a $2,500 fine from NHL discipline czar Brendan Shanahan, who gave this explanation:

“This was a reckless and reactionary play on which Weber threw a glancing punch and then shoved Zetterberg’s head into the glass.

“As is customary whenever Supplemental Discipline is being considered, we contacted Detroit following the game and were informed that Zetterberg did not suffer an apparent injury and should be in the lineup for Game 2.

“This play and the fine that addressed it will be significant factors in assessing any incidents involving Shea Weber throughout the remainder of the playoffs.”

In responding to Shanahan’s ruling, Fraser had this to say:

The continuation of Weber’s hostility toward Zetterberg cannot be construed as a hockey play once Shea cerebrally departed the ice and entered the ring by using an open palm on the back of Henrik’s helmet to push the Detroit player’s head, now cushioned by his hockey glove, into the glass.

In this unprecedented turnbuckle reflex maneuver on the ice, Shea Weber did pull up on the force he could have exerted against his defenseless opponent. Putting force or lack thereof aside, what Shea Weber did was optically horrible and potentially dangerous.

While Brendan Shanahan and his Player Safety Committee have made many excellent decisions (some popular – some not) in an effort to rid deliberate contact to the head and dangerous hits from the game the lack of suspension in this incident sends the wrong message.

Other notes from Fraser’s piece:

– He suggests that, moving forward, actions like Weber’s (slamming opponent’s head into the glass) should result in a match penalty for deliberate attempt to injure. That would result in an automatic suspension until a full review/hearing was conducted.

– He would impose a minimum suspension of one game, maximum of five games.

– He would also impose the maximum allowable fine (which Shanahan did.)

PHT Related

Zetterberg says Weber cracked his helmet on “dirty” play

Columnist: Shanahan “choked” with Weber ruling

  1. bearsnbills - Apr 13, 2012 at 5:12 PM

    The real challenge for him will be to arrive at the appropriate punishment after “payback” occurs in tonight’s game. They had the most physical game of any played so far and it should be no different moving forward.

    • polegojim - Apr 13, 2012 at 6:45 PM

      Yep, it’s coming. The Wings aren’t dirty, but you can’t let this one go.

      Maybe not against Weber, but I’d love to see Bert take that one.

      An offensive leader is going to get Kronwalled – The Scorpions Tail

      • joeyjojoshabadoo - Apr 13, 2012 at 6:53 PM

        I think Bertuzzi should probably stay well away from this one. Let someone, anyone, else take revenge for the injured star player, Bert, uh, doesn’t have the best history with that.

      • polegojim - Apr 13, 2012 at 7:06 PM

        Maybe true… but problem is Det really doesn’t have an ‘enforcer’. Bert will finish it. If he just sticks to the matter at hand, he’d be ok. But…who knows what back room stipulations Bert was given at reinstatement.

        Sadly, the Wings need one for just these situations.
        It’s still an important part of the game.

        Ericsson just doesn’t have the ‘edge’.
        Stewart or Kronwall are closest we have.

        Love to have a Ian Laperriere or Darren McCarty right now.

      • polegojim - Apr 13, 2012 at 8:38 PM

        Well… and there you have it.

        Bert did exactly as hoped. Sent the message cleanly.

        Mark my words tho joey…. it aint over.

      • joeyjojoshabadoo - Apr 15, 2012 at 1:34 AM

        Yup, totally fine response. I actually don’t have a dog in this fight, I’m just glad Bertuzzi is on someone else’s favourite team now. Although honestly its nice to see him doing well, I don’t know why I still pull for him, what happened to Moore was horrible, I guess fan investment dies hard.

      • polegojim - Apr 15, 2012 at 11:41 AM

        I know what you mean… but points in time, even horrible ones… don’t always define a man. Everything aligned for the worst to come out of a terrible decision with Moore.

        You saw a potential of that with Weber. Stupid play that could have gone very bad. Watch for Weber to get even more attention and extra shots. You saw that throughout the game even after the fight. Face washes, shoves, etc. Then… he’s going to react and take a bad penalty. Bank on it.

        I’d take the gritty players like Bert over just ‘flash’ any day. Soft flashy players often get nullified during the playoffs.

  2. jmbates10 - Apr 13, 2012 at 5:19 PM

    If the leagues is serious about getting “head shots” removed from the game then there should be a minimum of five games for ANY hit to the head and a minimum of 10 for one such as Weber’s which had an element of premeditation contained to it. If you add a drastic type of penalty those hits will resolve themselves quickly.

    How does the Vancouver guy get 2 games for a check, and Weber get fined $2,500 and goes along his merry way while slamming Zettebergs head against the boards not once, not twice but three times. Ridiculous and entirely inconsistent which is the issue here. Each suspension given is totally subjective by Shanahan.

    • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Apr 13, 2012 at 5:23 PM

      Premeditation? I don’t like what Weber did but it was a reaction to the way Zetterberg had just hit him. Weber didn’t go into the corner thinking, “I feel like smacking this guy’s head into the glass.”

      But I do agree, there needs to be much more consistency from the league if they’re serious about getting dangerous head shots out of the game.

      • 3yardsandacloud - Apr 13, 2012 at 6:49 PM

        Premeditation is formed the instant he decided to slam Z’s head into the glass. I know it does not necessarily seem like it, but just like 1st degree murder, there just needs to be malice aforethought, which I think there clearly was.

        I’m more disappointed about the intent to injure element of the play. Concussions are proven to take time to develop, to have long term effects and to be tough to diagnose when players often times misrepresent their symptoms to continue playing. If you want that out of the game, you have to send a clear message that playoffs, regular season, overtime, it’s all the same. The NHL failed to do so and I think a lot of fans have lost respect for their focus on head shots.

        We will see if they are more focused after someone lays an elbow to Weber’s jaw tonight.

      • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Apr 13, 2012 at 6:55 PM

        I don’t think you guys understand what premeditation means. Deciding to do something a second before you do it doesn’t really qualify.

        Also, I’m not so sure that there was intent to injure. Weber is a big dude who could’ve easily put Zetterbergs head through the glass if he wanted to. Again, I’m not condoning what Weber did, but I don’t think it’s a extreme as some people are making it. Weber should’ve sat a game for doing something stupid and dangerous in the heat of the moment. That’s all there is to it.

      • brian32556 - Apr 13, 2012 at 8:04 PM

        Again, the reaction was the punch. Smashing the head into the glass – intent to injure. Kerry Frazer you are spot on!.

      • 3yardsandacloud - Apr 13, 2012 at 9:35 PM

        No, you’re not getting it. Everyone thinks premeditated means some grand scheme to do something. It’s not true. It can be formed in an instant. It’s the split second Weber thought between the original contact and the first punch. Or between the punch and slamming his head into the glass. That’s all it takes.

        I know it doesn’t seem like what you would think it is, but it is exactly how it works

      • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Apr 13, 2012 at 10:27 PM

        A decision you make a split second before you commit the act doesn’t count as premeditation. If that were the case then virtually every action by everyone ever would qualify. If Weber went straight for Zetterberg’s head as they went into the the corner then I would agree with you. But that’s not what happened.

      • 3yardsandacloud - Apr 14, 2012 at 7:56 AM

        I would love to know what you base that assertion on, because it is not based in reality. That’s what premeditation is. Why don’t you google it, read up on it and then consider my comment. I agree with you that when you think of premeditation, you don’t think it’s a split second thing; however, it actually can be.

      • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Apr 14, 2012 at 1:53 PM

        Every definition I’ve seen refers to an element of planning in advance. To me, planning in advance does not include choosing to do something the split second before you do it. But I guess since there are no time frames in these definitions this is a bit open to interpretation.

        However, I will say this again. When these two guys went into the corner there was no advanced planning on Weber’s part to smash Zetterberg’s head into the glass. When Zetterberg hit him, Weber’s reaction was to rough him up. What he did was reactionary and really just a much more aggressive version of a facewash or a couple of shots during a scrum. I don’t consider a reactionary play an act involving premeditation.

  3. northstars17 - Apr 13, 2012 at 5:27 PM

    it looks 10x worse than it is, actually it doesn’t even look bad… its the intent that looks horrific. I know it was heat of the moment but dumb dumb move by Weber. he should have got one game imo.

    • polegojim - Apr 13, 2012 at 6:28 PM

      And…. that’s exactly the point. Intent to injure is the rule.

      Shanny blew it off, because it was the playoffs.

  4. phillyaces - Apr 13, 2012 at 6:09 PM

    Can you imagine if Weber did that to Crosby. He would be fined 25,000 and suspended 5 games.

    • 3yardsandacloud - Apr 13, 2012 at 6:51 PM

      False. The CBA only allows for a max $2,500.00 fine. He definitely would have been suspended though. Most likely for the postseason.

    • toeblake2012 - Apr 13, 2012 at 7:07 PM

      i agree – if it is crosby the guy has a major called and suspended. but crosby would have stayed down and the pens would have said that crosby was not playing.

  5. polegojim - Apr 13, 2012 at 6:27 PM

    NEVER AGAIN do I want to hear ANYBODY say Shanahan gives preferential treatment to the Red Wings.

    Yes I’m yelling… Yes I’m frustrated… Yes $2,500 was a ridiculous fine/penalty.
    FLAT OUT INSULTING. That’s chump change pocket money for guys Weber..

    What does “no serious injury” occurred mean?

    Oh, OK… then I’ll keep doing it until serious injury occurs, eh?
    Oh, OK… I’ll ram his head into the boards only a few times so no serious injury occurs?
    Oh, OK… have someone else on the team do it, so Weber doesn’t get tagged for it?

    Pathetic Mr. Shanahan – fans should be able to impose a fine on you for this one…. or maybe smash your head into the boards a few times….as long as no serious injury results.

  6. craigmaitland - Apr 13, 2012 at 6:54 PM

    NHL continues to look bush league. Intent to injure and smashing a guys grill into the glass like a wwe wrestler isnt suspendable… But catching someone high on an attempt at a body check is…

  7. metroplexfrog - Apr 15, 2012 at 12:42 PM

    He definitely should have been suspended This is going to hang over this entire series, hopefully, the teams will play hockey.

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