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James Neal gets a one-game suspension

Apr 17, 2012, 10:49 PM EDT

The Pittsburgh Penguins’ James Neal was involved in two questionable plays during Sunday’s 8-5 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers. As a result, Neal had separate hearings with Brendan Shanahan about his hits on Sean Couturier and Claude Giroux. The result is that Neal got a one-game suspension. You can review the incidents and listen to Shanahan’s explanation below:

The bottom line is that, with the Penguins down 3-0 in their series, they will be missing one of their top players in Game 4 on Wednesday. They will also be without Arron Asham, who received a four-game suspension. What’s your take on Neal’s one-game suspension?

  1. challer9 - Apr 17, 2012 at 10:54 PM

    One game? Neal had 2 incidents reviewed by the league so each one got .5 game suspension? This is beyond ridiculous at this point.

    • eigglesnosuperbowls - Apr 18, 2012 at 6:21 AM

      I think what Neal did was worse than Ashame I cant figure it out ! I can figure it out its simple the NHL can go a few games without a mucker grinder fighter but a 40 goal guy ahhhhhh not so much its wrong!

      • jpelle82 - Apr 18, 2012 at 10:11 AM

        thats your problem, you thought. how you could think a charge is worse than a crosscheck to the throat and a punch to the back of the head is beyond me.

  2. hockinj25 - Apr 17, 2012 at 10:55 PM

    Way way way way too light.

    • jpelle82 - Apr 18, 2012 at 9:39 AM

      clean hit on cuntourier (even though he didnt have the puck) and admittedly a bad one on giroux. giroux embellished though and cuntorier was not hurt. neal has no history, 1 game is fair

      • jpelle82 - Apr 18, 2012 at 10:10 AM

        correction, neal was suspended 3 years ago

      • epictron1 - Apr 18, 2012 at 10:26 AM

        42.1 Charging – A minor or major penalty shall be imposed on a player who skates or jumps into, or charges an opponent in any manner. (Neal clearly left his feet on BOTH checks)

        Neither hit was clean, open your eyes.

      • duece430 - Apr 18, 2012 at 10:27 AM

        And according to shanahan, he’s had 2 warnings. Not a clean record.

      • Doesnotmatter - Apr 18, 2012 at 7:04 PM

        Cuntourier ??? You, Sir, are a genius.

  3. icelovinbrotha215 - Apr 17, 2012 at 10:58 PM

    So he has 2 different hearings and out of that he gets 1 game? .5 game per hearing? Nice job Mr. Shanahan. The bias has become laughable. Flyers just need to win tomorrow night and be done with all this nonsense. Knock knock. Let ’em in…

  4. mb65dod - Apr 17, 2012 at 10:59 PM

    It’s a joke…. Two headshots and 1 game suspension while Shaw has got 3 games… The NHL needs a committee for the policing the game and not one inconsistent lunatic.

    • jpelle82 - Apr 18, 2012 at 10:06 AM

      the cuntourier hit wasnt a headshot.

      • epictron1 - Apr 18, 2012 at 10:27 AM

        Only reason why it wasn’t a head shot is because Couturier is 6’4″.

      • bcjim - Apr 18, 2012 at 10:29 AM

        Still a ruthless charge and he left his feet. SC was also, as they say, unsuspecting.

      • jpelle82 - Apr 18, 2012 at 12:20 PM

        and neal is 6’2″. couldve hit him in the head if he wanted

    • crashtheboards55 - Apr 18, 2012 at 1:45 PM

      As a pens fan, way too light. Both hits were reckless and dirty without a doubt. I’m tired of all the yinzers defending the hits by neal and asham. Ridiculous. There is no need to do that period. You yinzers are the same ones who screamed bloody murder when letang and crosby got hit. The only difference this time is that the Pens did it and that to you is alright. C’mon. Wake up and realize that those plays were an embarrassment. You wanna beat your rival, put pucks in the net or accept defeat gracefully. Don’t act like a bunch of 15 year old girls who just got dumped.

  5. rsportgod - Apr 17, 2012 at 11:00 PM

    Neal should have received 2 games for the Couturier hit and 1 for the Giroux hit.

    • travishenryskid - Apr 17, 2012 at 11:20 PM

      It would be easier to make the argument that he should be suspended for all of next season then to only give him one game. Two completely blatant attempts to injure. He deserved the Bertuzzi/Mcsorely treatment. Shannahan is in so far over his head that he’s drowning. Bettman needs to step in and do something before this goes any further, Shannahan has proven he’s not up for the job.

      • jpelle82 - Apr 18, 2012 at 12:21 PM

        are you delerious? the rest of the season for a charging minor penalty?

  6. ravenscaps48 - Apr 17, 2012 at 11:02 PM

    2 Disciplinary Meetings for 2 Headshots and a 1 Game Suspension… Nicklas Backstrom tried to Cross Check Rich Peverley in the Face, had it blocked, and grazed his chest, and he gets a 1 Game Suspension…. WHAT IS THE BASELINE???

    • kascal13 - Apr 18, 2012 at 2:12 AM

      Baseline is how much Shanny likes you and your team. He only retired 3 years ago; he’s still got buddies and relatively fresh rivalries and grudges, no way is he going to make fair decisions and he’s in over his head trying to pretend he can.

    • fbothharbaughs - Apr 18, 2012 at 7:20 AM

      Backstrom (“tried to”) crosscheck(ed) Peverly in the face & received a match penalty, which carries an automatic game suspension. What don’t you understand?

      Just like your coach, possibly the dirtiest player of all time, who can’t understand why anyone would target a player’s head… priceless!

      • bcjim - Apr 18, 2012 at 10:32 AM

        Shanahan is lucky he has that match penalty legalese to hide behind on this one. If that had happened mid game it was a 2 minute penalty that noone remembers.

        Backstrom gets one game on a technicality.

        Neal gets one game for far worse offenses.

        Weber…dont get me started. How could NB get MORE than Weber?!?!?!?!?!??!?!?!??!?!?!?

  7. buckeye044 - Apr 17, 2012 at 11:04 PM

    Incredible. NHL should just come out and say that suspensions will be based on playing ability and what team you play for.
    Sorry Torres, but you will be gone for remainder of playoffs and early next year because you are just a role player.

  8. atb4 - Apr 17, 2012 at 11:04 PM

    As bad at it is, this is “fair” based on how Shanahan usually hands these out, in terms of player injury. The hit on Couturier could have ended as bad as the Hossa hit tonight, but it didn’t, so it gets less.

    Does it make sense? No.
    Is it in line with what you’d expect for a sort of star player that didn’t injure somebody? Yes.

  9. dougr42 - Apr 17, 2012 at 11:07 PM


    Fans don’t want to see these dirty hits, players don’t want to take them, coaches are infuriated by it…When is the league going to do something serious about this!? Does someone have to get paralyzed or worse before they actually make consistent rulings that make this go away? Fix this dirt before the NHL becomes a bigger joke than it already is.

  10. bmscalise - Apr 17, 2012 at 11:08 PM

    You people do realize that this wasn’t a head shot because – you know – he didn’t make contact with the head. In either case. It was a charging call – not a head shot.

    • biasedhomer - Apr 17, 2012 at 11:13 PM

      Just because he missed the head, does not mean the intent was not there.

      • maalea - Apr 17, 2012 at 11:23 PM

        If Neal didn’t hit Giroux in the head, why was his helmet over his eyes?

      • bmscalise - Apr 17, 2012 at 11:32 PM

        Why? Because you say so? You can’t judge someone’s intent. That’s a fallacy (you know, the intentional fallacy) – and why intent can’t ever factor into discipline. You did something – or you didn’t do something. And he didn’t hit them in the head.

        The second hit was clearly a charge, not a head shot. I’m not even arguing the suspension or that the hit was clean. I just find it stunning that the morons on this post can’t tell the difference.

      • maalea - Apr 17, 2012 at 11:40 PM

        Again, If Neal didn’t hit Giroux in the head, why was his helmet askew?

      • bmscalise - Apr 17, 2012 at 11:54 PM

        Because he leaned over. A lot of players keep their helmets loose. It means nothing.

      • phillyboy20 - Apr 18, 2012 at 7:05 AM

        bmscalise i agree that he didn’t make contact with the head on coots whether he was trying to or not you cant say either way but he did leave his feet and hit a player that hadnt had the puck for awhile. So that still has to be considered intent to injure, if a guy doesnt have the puck there is no other reason to hit him that hard unless your trying to injure him.

        The giroux hit you are way off base, just admit it, its not even close, He throws an elbow and hits grioux in the head (second time this yr a pen has tried to elbox giroux in the head by the way) his helmet is on sideways when he comes up, and then he starts to fall catches himself then wobbles some more and falls to the ground…this isnt scott hartnell were talking, about giroux is a geat skater he doesnt just fall over his feet like that unless he took a shot to the head

      • maalea - Apr 18, 2012 at 8:23 AM

        Child, Please.

        If his helmet was that loose, he could never take a faceoff.

        You are either myopic or delusional.

    • mb65dod - Apr 18, 2012 at 9:05 AM

      Hey Shanny, get off this blog…

  11. phillyfan21 - Apr 17, 2012 at 11:08 PM

    Shanahan has proven to be overmatched in his position. He keeps listing a reason for low suspension of games is the player was not injured. He is missing the point, they are not injured by pure luck as lesser hits have produce more injuries. He should be ruling on the two cheap hits with the intent to injure. This is what needs to be policed and removed from the game. I do not accept Neals explanation that he left his feet on the Coutirer hit to brace himself. It is obvious that he saw an opportunity and went after the kid. One game suspension is a joke!!

    • mmeyer27 - Apr 18, 2012 at 12:45 AM

      Absolutely correct. Luck (or lack thereof) has more to do with it than the intent or action. If the action was wrong, it should be punished accordingly.

      And Neal’s explanation has no basis in fact. The only part I would buy is that he made his turn to go to offense. After that, he saw Couturier (who hadn’t touched the puck in at least 2 seconds), aimed for him and jumped UP! If he was trying to avoid contact, he would have cut to the side and missed him altogether. And, he was looking right at him the whole time. No attempt to minimize anything, just a jump at his head. The fact that he mostly missed (and I would contend that Sean’s face hit Neal’s left shoulder while the full body contact was occuring), was not because he wasn’t trying to. And the fact that Sean is lucky enough not to be hurt was certainly not because Neal wasn’t trying to hurt him.

      Shanahan is a complete joke. And the refereeing in the games is not much better. I can’t believe 4 officials on the ice did not notice that hit.

      Oh well, I just hope they (and I mean ALL of these teams) stop trying to hurt each other, and just play hockey.

  12. barkar942 - Apr 17, 2012 at 11:11 PM

    Now wait- Sounds like Neal has been suspended for the remainder of the series. Should be over for Philly after game 4!

  13. ml3939 - Apr 17, 2012 at 11:11 PM

    I would buy the argument that he was transitioning to offense on the first hit had he not had the history and did not attempt to take Giroux’s head off at the other end of the ice. History and similar intent 42 seconds later should negate his explanation. Neal deserved at least 3 games. I think Shanahan failed on this ruling, the Carkner ruling and the Weber ruling

  14. chip56 - Apr 17, 2012 at 11:14 PM

    As a Rangers fan it pains me to root for the Flyers but given the crap that is the Pittsburgh Penguins here’s hoping that there’s only one game left in their season anyway.

    Best I can tell Shanny looks at three things when handing out punishments:

    1. Was the player hurt
    2. Who was on the receiving end of the play
    3. How blatant was it

    Based on all of that I expect Torres to get something like a dozen games for a blatant hit on a superstar player that forced him to leave on a stretcher.

    • stakex - Apr 17, 2012 at 11:21 PM

      I think you forgot one…

      1A. What team does the offender play for.

      …and “intent to injure” isn’t even on the list it would seem.

    • travishenryskid - Apr 17, 2012 at 11:24 PM

      He doesn’t look at who’s on the receiving end, he looks at who’s doing the hitting. Remember, Weber slammed Zetterbergs face. It didn’t matter because he didn’t want to suspend a star. Same with Neal. Asham gets a 4 game when Neal’s offense was worse. Only reason is Neal is a good player, Asham is nothing.

      • stakex - Apr 17, 2012 at 11:28 PM

        Using your stick as a weapon is far worse then a high hit……

      • travishenryskid - Apr 17, 2012 at 11:31 PM

        Neal’s intent is far worse. He was head hunting.

      • jpelle82 - Apr 18, 2012 at 12:23 PM

        you are crazy, you think a charging penalty is worse than a crosscheck to the throat and a punch to the back of the head?

    • maalea - Apr 17, 2012 at 11:38 PM

      Once again the NHL has it a$$ backwards. You can not referee on the result.

      Double minor if you bleed.

      Players whipping their heads back, it must be a high stick.

      If your injured, it’s a longer suspension.

      Soon players will be faking being injured. Giroux could have laid on the ice for 3 minutes, go to the locker room, then list him as day to day with an upper body injury. Then play after the suspension is announced. How many games would it have been then?

  15. stakex - Apr 17, 2012 at 11:19 PM

    The worst part about this is the hit on Sean Couturier was actually the worse then the Giroux hit. At least Giroux had the puck at one point…. Couturier never did, and Neal clearly left his feet on the hit. When you throw that kind of hit on a player that never came close to touching the puck (and the puck is 30 feet away) you have only one goal…. to hurt that play. That hit alone should have gotten Neal AT LEAST a game if not 2. Its a complete joke that he only recieved one game for both hits.

    Shanahan needs to be fired… plain and simple.

  16. kotteintheslot - Apr 17, 2012 at 11:22 PM

    As a caps fan, I want to first say that Backstrom’s play was a boneheaded move and the 1 game was warranted. But tell me how two clear intents to injure players when a game is over is as bad? Shanahan is all over the place and doesnt seem to know what or how to suspend players anymore. Its a joke.

  17. kingjoe1 - Apr 17, 2012 at 11:24 PM

    It seemed like Neal’s actions were prep panned and intetionally geared towards head shots. Asham was reactionary. Shanny got this backwards.

  18. jkay1818 - Apr 17, 2012 at 11:43 PM

    Hagelin, far from a dirty player, no intent to injure 3 games. Neal, head hunting 2 difft players, one being giroux, one game. Makes sense. And asham, a cross check to the throat and a punch to the back of the head while lying face first, only 1 more game than Hagelin. Makes sense again

  19. seanemac75 - Apr 18, 2012 at 12:30 AM

    2 head hits 1 game, min of 3 games suspension. basic math. Question, if that was someone from another team, Flyers, Rangers, Bruins, or whomever did the same to Malik or Crosby, with the same result, would the suspension be the same?

    • mathpete13 - Apr 18, 2012 at 1:44 AM

      I’m thinking it would have been a “see you next season…maybe” type of suspension

      it all comes down to who you know…sadly

      B.S. is a joke, the NHL is being laughed at right now and rightfully so
      I’m betting when they finally do replace him, it’s be by Stone Cold Steve Austin or Hulk Hogan

  20. seanemac75 - Apr 18, 2012 at 12:48 AM

    The rules of the NHL discipline czar, are based of off one basic principle: No Harm, No Foul. So, for future references to all players, if hit at the end of a game that is basically over, play hurt, get listed on the injury list, and more games will be added to any weak suspension. For reference on how to over act, please call your local European soccer player or Sidney Crosby. Wait, dont call Sid, he will probably leave half way thru the explanation and have someone finish the lesson for him.

  21. Doesnotmatter - Apr 18, 2012 at 1:44 AM

    I almost feel sorry for Torres. He’s so screwed.

    • mb65dod - Apr 18, 2012 at 9:11 AM

      No sorry for him. He is a goon who has no place on ice next year!

      • Doesnotmatter - Apr 18, 2012 at 7:38 PM

        sarcasm. Though it seems like Torres is really really screwed.

  22. skippyx - Apr 18, 2012 at 4:10 AM

    Lets summarize what this clown’s real message is:
    We encourage attempts to injure as long as you fail to succeed.

    Shanahan is a monster for fanning the flames of violence.

    All 18 Senator skaters should run Lundquist until he drops to even Ottawa’s chances. What is the downside in the current state of this blood sport?

  23. hatman83 - Apr 18, 2012 at 6:53 AM

    I haven’t quite understood, although not surprised anymore, why hockey fans are such whiners. I get the fact, that one would like to see a rival suspended to increase your team’s chances. But for crying out loud, how come everytime some gets a suspension, there is a flood of comments hating on Shanahan and whining about too short suspensions???
    I don’t like to see someone ending another player’s career, so obviously that has to be penalized. But I find it hypocritical that everyone gets excited by a hard hit (just look at the hit Shenn delivers right before Asham loses his mind, and the crowd reaction – and that was an illegal hit), but as soon as they come home to their computers they are screaming for suspensions.
    I love the physicality of the sport and enjoy the hard hits. If you want those hard hits, and goes for them as a player, sometimes it will be mis-timed, but that’s ‘rewarded’ with a penalty in the game. Of course Asham deserves a suspension, because it was a malignant intend and a bad hit, but I hate to see every hard hit being scrutinized for potential suspension – just enjoy them!!

  24. edber29 - Apr 18, 2012 at 7:58 AM

    The Referees should be suspended. How were these hits not called penalties? This leads to player frustration and the battle that followed. What a joke!

    • jblah - Apr 18, 2012 at 8:16 AM

      you do realize whats going to happen now right? Every little thing will be a penalty tonight. the ref’s are so inconsistent. they either have to overdo it or under do it.

  25. lsxphotog - Apr 18, 2012 at 10:25 AM

    I expected nothing more than a bad call by Shanahan…and that’s what we got. Deliberately try to take two difference makers out of the series in the same game? Well…that’s only a single game suspension because you didn’t actually take them out and you’re too important to your team to miss more time. Why not try again when you come back!?!?!?

    A joke.

  26. duece430 - Apr 18, 2012 at 10:38 AM

    Not only is Shanahan terrible at determining suspensions, but his videos show he has no idea how to evaluate a dirty hit properly. “Neal left his feet to brace himself for contact” Do you expect anyone to actually believe that garbage? “Giroux lost his balance attempting to adjust his helmet” You’re telling me that one of the best players in the NHL suddenly is a klutz on skates? It’s quite unbelievable how outrageous these statements are. The only thing Shanahan is doing well is showing how inept he is at doing his job.

  27. th86cj7 - Apr 18, 2012 at 8:31 PM

    I am still distgusted with this. Torres does the exact same thing last night and today he is the worst person the planet because Hossa was hurt. Dont get me wrong Torres is a clown punk and dirty but its the same hit plus Neal then went head hunting again. Its called intemt to injury. Not just injur. It makes me sick Neal will be back for game five for twice tryingbto decapatate and as grimy as Torres is and how cheap his shotbwas he will be gone for.good. Shanny is all over the map. I dont even know what to say and im very surprised that no commentators said something or anything, its like if no one is.seriously injures we dont care. So if i try to shoot you with a gun and i miss, no big deal. But if i punch you in the face, thats the end of the world

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