2012 NHL Playoffs: Is Chicago Blackhawk Andrew Shaw Getting Shanked by the NHL?

Mary Ann Reitano@MusingMaryAnnContributor IIIApril 17, 2012

The NHL’s Office of Player Safety is again at the epicenter of the storm as a cloud of questions hangs over Tuesday's Game 3 playoff series between the Chicago Blackhawks and Phoenix Coyotes

Brendan Shanahan and company have put a hold on their supplemental disciplinary decision regarding Blackhawks rookie Andrew Shaw, after Shaw collided with Coyote goaltender Mike Smith during Saturday’s Game 2 in Phoenix.

While the Office of Player Safety had a face-lift this year with the departure of Colin Campbell as the face of the disciplinary arm of the NHL, the controversy over what many see as arbitrary and often contradictory decision-making is still alive and well under Shanahan.

While Shanahan has a much more professional approach to the job than his predecessor, the end results still seem to be comparable to Campbell's. 

Since the hit in question took place with regard to a goaltender, let’s take a look at Shanahan’s ruling earlier this season when Boston’s Milan Lucic made contact with Buffalo’s Ryan Miller.  Shanahan, in his explanation, had this to say, according to NHL.com, “…while it's unfortunate that Miller was hurt, I saw nothing egregious about this hit that would elevate it to supplemental discipline."

As an aside, I have to wonder if Shanahan also took into consideration Lucic’s postgame interview in which he smiled multiple times as reporters peppered him with questions.  (See video below.) 



Since Shanahan saw “nothing egregious” with Lucic’s hit on Miller, couldn’t the same be said for Shaw?

Going further, many, including myself, questioned why the officiating team did not make Smith spend time in the mandatory Quiet Room especially after Smith’s lengthy time laying on the ice appearing to be in severe pain and receiving medical attention from team trainers.

The hit took place at 12:49 of the second period, and interestingly enough, as soon as the Coyotes were told that Shaw would receive a five-minute major and game misconduct for his hit on Smith, Smith came to his feet and went on to play the rest of the game, including OT. 

Both Smith and coach Dave Tippett made statements to the effect that Smith was “fine," and Smith himself said, according to The Chicago Tribune, “I am 100 percent.” 

The hint of conspiracy is now in the air due to the fact that Shaw had his meeting with Shanahan on Monday, and as of the posting of this article, there is still no word on any supplemental discipline for Shaw.

With the puck drop for Game 3 less than 12 hours away, this puts Chicago's gameplan in a precarious state with regard to Shaw's ability to play or not still in limbo.

The Office of Player Safety has habitually handed down decisions the same day as meeting with the player, but sources inside the NHL front office have stated that the league will be waiting 48 hours to rule on this matter.  

If this is the case, it is certainly unprecedented and opens the flood gates to various questions among fans and reporters alike.

Is there a conflict of interest with respect to the NHL’s ownership of the Coyotes at play here? Did Smith purposely put on an Academy Award performance after the hit so as to intentionally influence the officials’ penalty on Shaw?

Did Smith not participate in team practice on Monday in the hopes of influencing Shanahan’s decision?


If the Coyotes state that Smith now has concussion-like symptoms and is questionable to play tonight, will the league send one of its doctors to evaluate Smith before making a ruling on Shaw?

Will there be any disciplinary action against the officials for not following NHL protocol and forcing Smith into the Quiet Room?

Lastly, I will leave you all with this excerpt from the NHL Rule Book:

8.2 Injured Goalkeeper - If a goalkeeper sustains an injury or becomes

ill, he must be ready to resume play immediately or be replaced by a

substitute goalkeeper and no additional time shall be allowed by the

Referee for the purpose of enabling the injured or ill goalkeeper to

resume his position.


Update:  Received an interesting comment via Twitter from @mike_marsh: 

"Imagine if Smith played that puck on his backhand. None of this would have happened."

Thanks for the goalie perspective, Mike!  Love it!


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