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Shanahan: Weber ruling didn’t open door to playoff violence

Apr 23, 2012, 5:09 PM EST

Brendan Shanahan AP

“[Brendan] Shanahan’s playoffs have been a bust since he turtled in making a decision on Shea Weber’s flight of UFC fancy in Game 1 of the Nashville-Detroit series. Since then it’s been a traveling freak show of late hits, scrums and head shots targeting both elite players and the odd mediocrity, too.” – Jeff Blair, Globe and Mail

“The NHL wonk in charge of making miscreants stay after school did nothing more than fine Weber a mere $2,500, and only that because that was maximum allowed by the collective bargaining agreement. No suspension. No missed games. No real punishment. Just a silly fine for a serious act. Shanahan got pantsed. He clowned his own league. He turned the best time of the year into a joke.” — Steve Rosenbloom, Chicago Tribune

“I think the league had a pretty good opportunity to set the bar, and I guess they did.” – Zetterberg

To all of the above, Shanahan respectfully disagrees. The decision to let Weber off with a fine had nothing to do with the on-ice violence that followed.

Shanahan told USA TODAY Sports that he asked his hockey operations colleagues (who total almost 100 years of NHL playing experience) this question: “Did you ever sit in a dressing room in the playoffs, and say, ‘I was going to play this one straight tonight, but Shea Weber didn’t get suspended so I’m going to go to a completely different planet and go off the rails?’”

Shanahan added: “I don’t think Andrew Shaw decided to run a goalie because of Shea Weber. I don’t think he woke up that day and said, ‘I think that decision means I can run goalies.’”

At least one NHL coach would agree.

“Players don’t sit at home and say, ‘well if he didn’t get suspended I can do it,’” Bruce Boudreau told CBC.ca. “In hockey, things happen in an instant. It’s not a premeditated type thing, where you go and see if I can get away with hitting his head into the glass. To me it happened in an instant. I don’t think given that situation again, Shea Weber would do that but I mean it was there and he did it.”

He added: “It’s only the people that want to make a mountain out of a molehill and have nothing better to do that are trying to make this more than it is.”

For what’s it worth, I’m with Shanahan and Boudreau. If there was any connection to the Weber ruling and the subsequent offenses, it was miniscule relative to the attention it’s received.

  1. cowboys282 - Apr 23, 2012 at 5:19 PM

    Beside the fact that I don’t expect him to admit to being wrong is logic is flawed.

    Sure nobody is sitting in a dressing room thinking they are going to play dirty because Weber didn’t get suspended.

    But if was a player I sure would have thought the NHL was welcoming the violence and were not going to bring the hammer down on anybody.

    Its funny Weber crushes Zetterberg’s head into the glass and gets nothing and Torres gets 25 games for the elbow on Hossa. Watching the two plays they both look just as violent. Yet one gets 25 games and the other zero.

    One happened at the start of the violence and the other happened at it’s peak. And the suspension or lack there of match the time frames. No matter what Shanahan says publicly.

    • HawaiiHockey - Apr 23, 2012 at 5:24 PM

      You are right about the logic being flawed. Isn’t the idea of punishing almost exclusively enforced to discourage future incidents? If players don’t go around avoiding things they’ll get suspended for, then why is the suspension implemented in the first place?

    • themohel - Apr 23, 2012 at 6:39 PM

      I agree with the general points you make here, but I don’t agree about the idea that these two hits were “just as violent” as each other. Torres was skating rather quickly when he hit Hossa, whereas Weber was standing still. Very big difference in the speed and power behind Torres’ elbow versus Weber’s. I do not mean that Weber shouldn’t have been suspended, but his hit was nowhere near as dangerous as was Torres’. NOTE – not a comment about which was closer to a “hockey play” – whatever that is. It is about which highly illegal elbow could do the most damage.

    • tommytd - Apr 23, 2012 at 7:34 PM

      If I woke up one day and rationalized that this discipline czar didn’t have the stones to sit guys during the playoffs unless they were guilty of attempted murder, I might take the opportunity to be a bit more aggressive than usual.

  2. hagigun - Apr 23, 2012 at 5:25 PM

    If you follow the exact wording, sure Shanny is right about the Weber hit, it didn’t force others or let others know “Now we can do whatever we want!”

    But it sure made the rest of his suspension decisions come under undue scrutiny. I have no problem with Torres getting 25 games with his history and the hit…but compared to Weber getting ZERO I do have an issue with 25 games.

    I have no issue with Shaw getting 3 games…but compared to Weber getting ZERO I do have an issue….

    I have no issue with Adams getting 1 game, but compared to Weber getting ZERO I do have an issue…

    and on, and on….

    • themohel - Apr 23, 2012 at 6:44 PM

      Nicely done – you pretty clearly showed the issue here. There appears to be no overall structure used in these decisions. I think it would be wise for Shanny to put out a video comparing some of the hits to each other – explain why Shaw and Weber had different outcomes; why Neal got one and Torres got 25 for very similar hits (how much of the 25 was for being a repeat customer and how much was it the injury to Hossa?). Assuming there are good reasons for this, it would help lessen the heat on him if he ‘splained…..

    • maalea - Apr 23, 2012 at 6:51 PM

      The Adams call was a 3rd man in the last 5 minutes of the game.

      That’s an automatic 1 game.

    • tommytd - Apr 23, 2012 at 7:38 PM

      You’re right. The consistency (or in the case of the NHL) the inconsistency upon which they apply penalties makes the NHL discipline system a sham. Weber gets off with only a fine for his action at the same time the league is TRYING TO ELIMINATE HEADSHOTS??? Tell me these guys are for real!

  3. HawaiiHockey - Apr 23, 2012 at 5:25 PM

    I don’t think players so much premeditate their hits, but the tone is set through disciplinary actions.

    But Shanahan knows that. This is about saving face….

    • polegojim - Apr 23, 2012 at 5:43 PM

      Yep – he blew it and knows it. Horrible error in judgement.

      Makes me want to ram someones head into the boards.

      • HawaiiHockey - Apr 23, 2012 at 9:50 PM

        Calm down, man. This isn’t the NHL. You can’t do that here. You would get in trouble.

      • polegojim - Apr 23, 2012 at 10:40 PM

        Oh… my bad. What was I thinking?

  4. rayburns - Apr 23, 2012 at 5:25 PM

    So, you’re driving down the road, and you know that the cop that patrols the road only issues warning…. or you’re driving down the road and you know that the cop that patrols the road issues tickets the moment you go over the speed limit.

    You may not set out to speed, and you may not consciously try to speed, but you sure as heck are checking your speedometer to make sure you’re not speeding if you’re going to get a ticket.

    Just sayin’….

    • tommytd - Apr 23, 2012 at 7:42 PM

      Sounds so simplistic the NHL would never adopt a consistent approach to these infractions. Look at the moron who runs the league…he’s an idiot. Look at his past discipline czar…he was worse. Shanny’s heading down the same path. His program is a joke.

  5. bdfools - Apr 23, 2012 at 5:28 PM

    They may not sit there and think, “Hey, if he did it, I can do it too!”

    But if he would have been suspended for 2-3 games, they sure as hell might have thought, “Oh, I’m being watched, maybe I need to be a bit more careful with the bordeline hits.”

    And that’s the problem.

  6. maddalone - Apr 23, 2012 at 5:28 PM

    Shanahan opened the door to hockey violence in the playoffs by only suspending Matt Carkner for one game in what was a non hockey play targeted attack against a defenseless player by a repeat offending player.

    • scottybcboy - Apr 23, 2012 at 6:15 PM

      Absolutely disagree. As hard as it might be to watch, it is much better having players retaliate with their fists as opposed to elbows and sticks. If Shanny gave Carkner more games than Hagelin or Backstrom it would be sending a dangerous message.

  7. dsd3 - Apr 23, 2012 at 5:31 PM

    Shanahan’s not wrong about one thing. All the talk about him botching suspension rulings does distract from the fact that players need to be more responsible and respectful about not hurting each other.

    At the end of the day, the burden is on the player to not attempt to injure another player. Shanahan has royally screwed up virtually every important decision he’s made, but I still blame the players more than Shanahan for this violent crap we’re seeing. Individual responsibility shouldn’t be a foreign concept to some of these guys.

    But Shanahan sucks at this job, and needs to stop letting star players get away with murder. His failure in handing out reasonable punishments for players like Weber, Neal, and Malkin just because they’re faces of the league is inexcusable.

    • tommytd - Apr 23, 2012 at 7:47 PM

      Look at Campbell…the guy he replaced! He was a total bust as well. If they can’t do any better protecting the players, they should fold their tent. This ain’t hockey we’re watching…it’s a disgrace and that’s why NHL hockey will always be a “second tier” professional sport. The product they’re putting on the ice right now is garbage and they should be ashamed of themselves.

      • dsd3 - Apr 23, 2012 at 8:29 PM

        It’s still better than the NBA and the NFL.

  8. paysattention - Apr 23, 2012 at 5:39 PM

    He is right. His decision did not lead to players sitting in a dressing room and deciding to run goalies or go head-hunting. However, his decision also did not lead to players skating around the rink making sure that they don’t run goalies or go head-hunting because of fear of suspension. If Weber had gotten a few games (as public opinion seems to agree he should have) then maybe Neal doesn’t run Courtier AND Giroux in one shift et cetera ad nauseum. In short, a big suspension on Weber’s head smash would likely have lead to fewer overall suspensions and less violence.

  9. wicky888 - Apr 23, 2012 at 5:41 PM

    It certainly didn’t close the door Shanny

  10. hky15 - Apr 23, 2012 at 5:42 PM

    I can’t stand Shanahan but I will say this, 99.9% of hits are not premeditated. And by no means I am advocating bad decisions but it’s a split second decision and reaction to what happens on the ice.
    But players should be held accountable for all bad decisions equally, a star player or 4th liner period.
    $2,500 fine is a joke.

    • themohel - Apr 23, 2012 at 6:54 PM

      I was attracted to the theory that there is not premeditation to many of these hits. But if things happen so fast that thinking cannot affect the player’s actions, that would mean that there is no reason to suspend anyone. It would also suggest that guys like Torres wouldn’t have any more of these hits than anyone else. It would also be hard to explain how Cooke hasn’t had any of these hits this year after having a serious talk with the league following his last suspension. I think the facts suggest that there is enough ability to control one’s actions on the ice to believe these actions are not random. Perhaps they don’t sit on the bench and say “now I’m gonna go elbow Malkin in the head,” but they clearly have the ability to stop themselves in the moment most of the time – because most in fact do so.

  11. rehmer2389 - Apr 23, 2012 at 5:59 PM

    Torres hit wouldn’t have been that bad if Hossas injury wasn’t as severe or look as severe as it did.

    James Neal got one game because Couturier and Giroux were not injured on the play. I look at what Aaron Asham did to Schenn and see the same thing as what Weber did to Zetterberg but the consequence was different.

    There is no consistency with these suspensions as Shanahan will only lay huge suspensions on guys who don’t matter as much to the game. Also it seems suspensions are only coming because of the result of the hit instead of the intention. What is the NHL trying to discourage? They’re basically saying its ok to cross the line as long as you don’t hurt the player or if you are a star in the league. If you hurt the player or your not well known your gonna be slapped with a multigame suspension.

  12. bcisleman - Apr 23, 2012 at 6:32 PM

    Nonsense! If that were true, there would be no point to Shanny’s position. Why bother having a disciplinary function at all if it is not there to discourage bad behavior?

    If players know—KNOW–that certain acts will mean multiple game suspensions, may cost their team a game, a series, etc, may adversely affect their career, they will behave differently than if they think there will be no or minimal consequences for their actions. That’s human nature.

    I really believe that there is going to have to be a Masterton tragedy…someone will have to die… before the NHL changes it’s culture. i’d hoped for more from Shanny. Guess he really is no different than Coli.

    • tommytd - Apr 23, 2012 at 7:51 PM

      You’re right…somebody’s gonna have to die before these idiots ever get it right…if even then. Hey Eddie O…still think this is the greatest game in the world??? I wouldn’t want my kid involved with hockey if this is where it leads.

  13. ml3939 - Apr 23, 2012 at 6:38 PM

    At least the Torres hit could have been deemed a hockey play had he conducted himself in a legal manner; there is nothing Weber did that could have been a legal hockey play.

  14. habsman - Apr 23, 2012 at 7:35 PM

    Shanahan came out and said discipline in the playoffs would be handled differently (more lenient) than the regular season. That in itself is amazing. Did he think the players weren’t listening?

    Is a concussion in the playoffs less severe than in the regular season?

    • tommytd - Apr 23, 2012 at 7:52 PM

      Just another example of the inept decision-making that’s putting players in jeopardy.

  15. bmscalise - Apr 23, 2012 at 8:14 PM

    This debate is part of a broader issue, regarding consistency in officiating as well as discipline. The general violence and dead-puck play we are seeing now are both representative of “let the boys play” anarchy. The on-ice officials refuse to call the rule book: they are even letting offsides plays go on, let alone the obstruction, etc. Consistency in discipline won’t happen until there’s consistency in on-ice officiating – until the rule book is enforced as black and white and remains the same in Game One as in the playoffs. The current “let the boys play” culture simply doesn’t allow for consistency.

  16. paperkid96 - Apr 23, 2012 at 8:19 PM

    Shanny you can end the controversy by saying you effed up! Admit it and it will go away!

    Its amazing how much more respect you would get if you manned up. Remember a guy named Jim Joyce, well he’s more well known than Armando Galarraga because he he admitted he blew the call. Now granted he had 1/10 th of a second to make the right call and you had 2 days but still you look twice as stupid trying to reason through your call.

  17. bigoldorcafromvan - Apr 23, 2012 at 10:03 PM

    Moral of the story. A grinder head shots a star its 25games. A star rams the head of a star into the boards or a star headshots a star after hunting him down gets anywhere from 2500 to 5 games. Makes sence. Also a coach telling like it really is get 10000 and doesn.t hurt anybody. Yep the NHL has it right now. (sic)

  18. brian32556 - Apr 23, 2012 at 10:30 PM

    Every fan and announcer says they have never seen this amount of violence in the playoffs. I think its more than a coincidence that the earliest worst hit went virtually unpunished and made it “open season.”

  19. shortsxit - Apr 23, 2012 at 11:03 PM

    Then what is the point in suspensions? If players don’t learn from punishments (their own or others), what is the point in his job?

  20. misterlucid - Apr 24, 2012 at 12:34 AM

    I think this is as simple as a limit setting issue that parents work out everyday.

    Your kid punches another kid at the playground. You scold him and send him on his way. How long before he punches another kid? Not too long in my estimation because there has been no negative deterrent. The otjer kids you have there see that as well and now know punches equal minimum punishment.

    Now, if u sit him down and take away his time playing time, you have punished him where it hurts. He cant play. Your other kids see that and know punches are punishable by time watching other kids play. They will be far less likely to punch now. A limit has been set and everyone is ware of it.

    Why Shanny doesnt see this is mind boggling

  21. butlers91 - Apr 24, 2012 at 10:57 AM

    I disagree with Shanny here. While players don’t sit around thinking about “who got away with what” – they certainly do sit around and say “did you see Weber got a game for that hit?”

    He should have got a game, it did set a tone for other hits. It wouldn’t have affected the series, the Wings won the game he would have been out of. Plus the Preds were simply better in that series, which is not easy for me to say.

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