Chicago Blackhawks rookie forward Andrew Shaw is facing a league hearing Monday because Phoenix goalie Mike Smith is a diver of Greg Louganis proportions. It's as simple as that.
Shaw was assessed a five-minute major penalty and a game misconduct for his mid-game collision with Smith during Chicago's 4-3 overtime victory in Game 2 of their Western Conference quarterfinal with the Coyotes.
With the score 2-2 in the eighth minute of the second period, Smith went behind the net to play the puck. Shaw, perhaps wanting to cut off a passing lane for Smith, swooped in behind the net. The two players made contact. Both Shaw's shoulder and the front of Shaw's helmet struck the front of Smith's mask.
"It met all the criteria of being more than a minor penalty, and a major penalty was the right call I believe," McGeough said after the game. "To come in at that speed and make contact with the goalie, just because he's outside of the crease he's not fair game. Therefore, the guys thought it was sufficient for a major penalty, and a game misconduct because of the severity of the hit. We're not doctors. We don't know if the goalie is hurt or not. We penalize the foul not the result."
I'm wary of that explanation. Penalizing the foul would have been the right call. Shaw ran into the goalie and made contact with Smith's head. This was a collision, not a check. Shaw made no motion into Smith that could even be construed as a attempt to hit the Coyotes' goalie.
I don't argue that Shaw should have been assessed a two-minute roughing minor, nor do I begrudge the goal Phoenix scored as a result. It was scored within the confines of a two-minute penalty, so that's on the Blackhawks' penalty-kill unit, not the officials.
McGeough insists that the officials don't penalize the result—then he should have been asked the following questions. I'll ask them now.
1. After two players collided with the force to send one player to the ice for several minutes, why was neither player checked out in the quiet room?
2. How, after a collision that left him writhing on the ice for five minutes while medical personnel labored over the fallen netminder, did Smith find the fortitude to pop right up and nonchalantly resume action?
“Obviously the officials thought Smith was done, that’s probably why we got the five-minute penalty,” Jonathan Toews said.
So much for penalizing the foul, or the result for that matter. Shaw was given the more severe penalty based largely on Smith's display behind the net and miracle recovery. If the league wants to come down on Shaw following Smith's augmenting the effects of the collision, they are opening a big can of worms.
Smith finished the game with no apparent effects and declared himself fine after the contest. Shaw has a hearing scheduled for Monday.
If the foul truly is what dictates punishment from the league, then the time Shaw has already served is more than enough.