The NHL's head disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan met with Blackhawks center Andrew Shaw on Monday afternoon to discuss his hit on Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith in Game 2 of their first-round series Saturday night.
After hours of contemplation and waiting after the hearing, reports leaked saying that the NHL would issue a decision on Tuesday.
The league must make a decision before the two teams square off for Game 3 Tuesday night. With Shaw awaiting the decision to be made about his future, one must question why Shanahan is taking so long to come up with a ruling.
Could it be because Shanahan is considering suspending Shaw for his "intentional" hit to Smith's head?
Or could there be something else at work?
If a suspension were to be handed out, it will show exactly just how inconsistent Shanahan's disciplinary rulings have been thus far in the playoffs.
The real question the NHL is looking at is whether Smith was injured on the hit. He clearly was not by his decision to stay and finish out the game, eventually turning away over 46 shots in over 70 minutes of play on the night. Shaw was given a game misconduct penalty and was forced to watch the rest of the game from the locker room.
Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews weighed in on Shaw's situation. Via the Chicago Sun-Times:
‘‘We lost a player for the rest of the game, and they didn’t,’’ captain Jonathan Toews said. ‘‘I don’t think the intent was there at all. [Shaw’s] effort to get out of the way and to avoid that head contact was enough. Their goaltender is healthy; he’s fine. He played well for the rest of the game. That’s the main thing.’’
So, again, why is the decision taking so long? One might wonder if Shanahan is closely keeping tabs on Smith to see if he really does have concussion symptoms.
Smith was absent from Monday's practice with his Coyotes teammates, which further fueled the speculation. Coach Dave Tippett, however, quickly shot down any rumors of injury to his goaltender, saying Smith was "fine."
With Smith missing practice and not being injured could he possibly be milking the rumors the concussion suspicions? The 30-year-old netminder was never given the league-mandated concussion protocol and was "stable" enough to finish the game.
It is definitely not out of the realm of possibility, as Andrew Shaw is a big part of the Blackhawks' energy line. But it's hard to imagine that the Coyotes would hold Smith out of practice just to punish a rookie on the opposing team's third line.
This all leads back to Shanahan and the NHL's decision-making process. If Shanahan is waiting for a medical update on Smith, he should have pressed the Coyotes about it rather than waiting an extra day.
It's the inconsistency of the NHL's disciplinary decisions that have come to define Brendan Shanahan; hopefully the correct decision is made in this instance.
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