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In fairness to Shanahan, he’s got a pretty tough job

Apr 17, 2012, 1:02 PM EDT

Brendan Shanahan Getty Images

There are times (many, many times) when you wonder if Brendan Shanahan wishes he could tell all his critics, “Hey, if you think you can do a better job, by all means, have at it. I’ll be over here drinking a daiquiri and laughing.”

The NHL’s disciplinarian was a little more diplomatic in an exclusive interview with the Globe and Mail, but you could sense his frustration with some of the criticism he’s been hearing recently.

“I think the job is always going to be subjective,” Shanahan said. “Regardless of who does it, the person is going to be accused of a million things. I don’t think people understand the depth of analysis and evaluation that we seek on each case. I get that. People don’t have the time to look at things as long and as deep as we do. But this for us is a 24-hour job. As our families can attest, we obsess about it.

“I’m not going to say we’re perfect. I do think we’re really qualified, and we’re really good.”

Shanahan also tells the Globe his decisions haven’t been influenced by owners.

“When I make a decision that you don’t like, blame me,” he said. “None of us needs to do this. People will say: ‘He needs the job, of course he’ll do whatever they tell him to do.’ No one has told any of us [what to do]. There’s too much scrutiny in this job for any of us to have favorites or alliances with old friends.”

Look, I’m not saying I agree with every ruling Shanahan has made.

But he’s never, ever going to satisfy the people, many of them in the media, that seem to cry for a suspension on every questionable play, AND the people, many of them fans, who think the rough stuff is just playoff hockey, AND the fans that can’t maintain their objectivity because of team allegiances, AND the teams that don’t want their players suspended, AND the teams that want the other teams’ players suspended, AND the people who think intent to injure should be punished, AND the people who think the actual injury should be the deciding factor.

  1. philly4lyfe - Apr 17, 2012 at 1:17 PM

    Shoot first, ask questions later.

  2. mojosmagic - Apr 17, 2012 at 1:21 PM

    Classic. case of over thinking on Shannahan’s part. KISS THEORY should apply. If you hunt a player down to inflict injury to the head then your gone 3 games. I don’t care how big a star you are or if the other guy was hurt. Intent is all that should matter. Repeat offenders should be gone longer for each offense.

    • mgp1219 - Apr 17, 2012 at 1:34 PM

      mojo –
      I agree 100% Well said.

    • imleftcoast - Apr 17, 2012 at 1:54 PM

      Base the suspension on the act. The thin skull rule should apply – the severity of the injury can only increase the length of the suspension. The Weber non-suspension really seems to have undermined the league’s creadibilty with the players.

    • ll8078 - Apr 17, 2012 at 2:59 PM

      why did the NHL ever decide to put a non-neutral party who has relations with people in the game in charge? disgraceful. Should be some guy who has no bias/influence in the game prior. Some kid out of college who played a little would be just as good.

      • ll8078 - Apr 17, 2012 at 3:00 PM

        or at least should be a committee. Shanaban has been no where near consistent.

      • habsman - Apr 17, 2012 at 4:44 PM

        Why would you be surprised?

        Colin Campbell was in charge while having a son playing for the Bruins.

        But Bruin fans will tell you there was no conflict. Nice cup win last year. Didn’t get any “help” did you?

  3. fubar77 - Apr 17, 2012 at 1:24 PM

    Digging ditches for a living is a hard job. Cleaning up and readying dead bodies for display is a hard job. Watching some tape where some spoiled athlete let his temper get the better of them and deciding how to handle said athlete is a dream job.

    Make your decisions and stand by them and be consistent, that is all that is expected of Shanahan. Let me know where to send my resume, which reads, “Able to distinguish the difference between an infraction needing a 3 day suspension from one who deserves a 1 game suspension.” Also, “Has the ability not to favor the Penguins so much!”

    • crosberries - Apr 17, 2012 at 1:42 PM

      Why don’t you throw Nashville in there too then moron. I love how everyone thinks the Penguins are favored for everything. You people do realize they are a small market team and can’t draw some of the rating a larger market would so what’s it matter to the NHL?

      • fubar77 - Apr 17, 2012 at 2:37 PM

        Because Nashville isn’t a bunch of crybabies that cry at every infraction, but then go out and play dirtier than anyone in the league with no reprisal. I don’t give a crap what their market is, I give a crap about what history has shown.

        Maybe if Shanahan actually comes down on Pitt for their shenanigans in their last game, then I will change my mind a bit, but for now they are the golden team with their hockey “Poster Boy” Crosby, who showed his true colors on Sunday on national TV. So don’t call me a moron because you are delusional!

    • davebabychreturns - Apr 17, 2012 at 2:23 PM

      Middle management is tough if you’re working for people who have zero integrity, and that’s exactly the situation Shanny’s put himself into.

      It’s pretty tough to have consistency when the league obviously kowtows to pressure when a key player hurts his team by losing his cool and obliterating somebody.

      Shanny’s job would be easy if the responsibility for a lengthy suspension fell on the player who earned it instead of the league handing it out. But because teams have been (successfully) lobbying the system for so long it’s a tough dynamic to break out of.

      I guess the NHL needs a giant class action lawsuit on its hands before it starts taking player safety seriously, regardless of whether it rankles certain specific players and teams.

  4. govtminion - Apr 17, 2012 at 1:25 PM

    He made Shea Weber pretty happy, so there’s that… right?

    • polegojim - Apr 18, 2012 at 9:26 AM

      Yep, sadly a classic case of ‘blowing up consistency’.

      He’s done a better job than anyone else…. but Weber should’ve been gone for 1 or more.

      • govtminion - Apr 18, 2012 at 10:14 AM

        One at the bare minimum, I was leaning towards two just for the blatant intent. Floodgates are open now though…

  5. DTF31 - Apr 17, 2012 at 1:28 PM

    His job is only as tough as he makes it. If he keeps things consistent then his job becomes easy. Don’t keep things consistent, then it becomes a lot harder.

  6. philly4lyfe - Apr 17, 2012 at 1:32 PM

    Anyone know when we should hear the results of the Asham/Neal hearings today?

    • sknut - Apr 17, 2012 at 2:35 PM

      Heard Neal this afternoon and Asham meetings were not till this afternoon so I would guess evening?

  7. cleverbob - Apr 17, 2012 at 1:32 PM

    What’s he get paid? I’m willing to make a career change.

  8. jmbates10 - Apr 17, 2012 at 1:34 PM

    Exactly…..just be consistent.

  9. ittakes2totanguay - Apr 17, 2012 at 1:35 PM

    If it’s so difficult to make everyone happy, set standards… That way the players know what to expect when they act with the intent to injure… Why is this so difficult? Shanahannanigans needs to minimize subjectivity in these decisions so the players can play the game and the fans can enjoy the games knowing that there are rules and a fair application of those rules.

    Get yourself together NHL, hockey popularity is on the rise in the USA and you’re going to ruin it by turning the sport into the UFC-on-ice and making the fans look like whining prima donnas with your inconsistencies.

    • mgp1219 - Apr 17, 2012 at 1:38 PM

      Exactly. Too much subjectivity, not enough objectivity in his decisions.

  10. kcz62364 - Apr 17, 2012 at 1:40 PM

    He has been very inconsistent. There was a blatant elbow to the back of Blues Nichol’s head and I have seen no mention that it has even been reviewed. Blues McDonald gets smashed into the boards by a clear charge ( the Shark player left his feet) again no mention anywhere. Then last night McDonald get’s back checked into the boards and no call or mention. At least McDonald is getting the sweetest revenge, he is scoring goals!!

    • mehetmet - Apr 17, 2012 at 2:32 PM

      i agree 100% and i’m a huge sharks fan. they should have 3 guys suspended right now for elbows/boarding/charging. Its unbelievable that they didn’t even get looked at or talked about by anyone.

  11. 2qswing - Apr 17, 2012 at 1:46 PM

    I completely agree this is a tough job, one that is a lightening rod for criticism. BUT every once in a while a case comes along that is not tough, where the answer is right there. Such a case was presented in the Shea Weber situation. A deliberate attempt to injure (albeit unsuccesful) AFTER time ran out, targeting the head. Not a Detroit fan. In fact I could care less about who wins that series. Shannahan whiffed, eroding his credibility. It was not a tough call. Analysis paralysis(sp?) Sometimes Shanny, the answer IS obvious. You send a message there ( one game) and I believe much of the Penguin-philly and Ranger-Sens crap doesnt even happen.

  12. girouxtangclan - Apr 17, 2012 at 1:54 PM

    In fairness his job isn’t too make people happy. His job is to hand out punishment enforcing rules set in a rulebook. I’d say that’s a pretty easy job.

  13. mojosmagic - Apr 17, 2012 at 2:13 PM

    “Anyone know when we should hear the results of the Asham/Neal hearings today”?
    Probably right after Shannahan enjoys his sweet tea and bun cakes at Mario’s house.

    • imleftcoast - Apr 17, 2012 at 2:58 PM

      If Shaw gets 3 games, Asham has to get 4-6. I’m going to have to believe the Mario angle otherwise.

  14. bobhpine - Apr 17, 2012 at 2:32 PM

    It’s actually not that hard…if he were harsher in his suspensions, the players would change…look at Matt Cooke…he was put out for 17 games and he changed…shanahan is too cowardly to stand up to the GM’s who give him input on how to do his job.

    • rpb1234 - Apr 17, 2012 at 3:49 PM

      He will throw the book at Ashram. Token enforcement. Neal will probably get off with a fine. Ashram is inconsequential to the series. They will string him up because he is a nobody. The true test is how they handle Neal. Ashram will probably get 5-8 games. Neal $2500 fine

  15. stratomaticfan - Apr 17, 2012 at 2:46 PM

    What a joke. He should have been suspending just about everyone who took head shots. Then people would stop. He should suspend guys who attempt to injure (Weber’s WWE turnbuckle smash / Backstrom’s throat cross check / etc) whether or not they actually hurt the opponent. Send a message that the dirty play will not be tolerated. Instead, he goes all wishy washy and now everyone takes liberties with everyone else, and the plays get dirtier and dirtier. He’s totally screwed this up.

  16. ray2013 - Apr 17, 2012 at 3:02 PM

    I’m confused by this article.

    We are all just supposed to give Shanny the benefit of the doubt, because he has a thankless job and it’s really hard and he can’t make everyone happy whatever he decides, and that fans of one team will want one punishment while fans of another will want no punishment. I get it; it’s not easy.

    But when it’s closely situated near article with Toews, who says that he doesn’t like the suspensions because players now don’t know where the lines are, and what types of plays cross those lines, and all of Shanny’s PR work comes undone. If players have no clue what is over the line, then Shanny has a much bigger problem to work with.

  17. crusty14 - Apr 17, 2012 at 4:55 PM

    How many goals did Colin Campbell score in the playoffs last year?

    It was a nice cup win, thanks for asking! It was especially nice since they got to beat the habs to start the trek to the cup!

  18. mathpete13 - Apr 17, 2012 at 5:54 PM

    I wish that I could be wrong as often as BS and still keep my job . ( I just realized how appropriate his initials are LOL)

  19. kcredneck - Apr 17, 2012 at 6:24 PM

    Stop the INSANITY, Im having nightmares! !!!!

  20. kcredneck - Apr 17, 2012 at 6:41 PM

    Shanahan has it made, how would you like to be that guy that has to count all the Penguins in Antarctica, just saw it on the news!

  21. hcky000 - Apr 18, 2012 at 1:35 AM

    Shanahan is suffering from Post Concussion Syndrome, so give hime a break.

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