Philadelphia Flyers fans are upset today with chief NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan. On Monday, he suspended Flyers star forward Claude Giroux for what he described as a reckless hit to the head of Devils' player Dainius Zubrus.
Zubrus was fine, and returned to play rather quickly. No blood, no concussion. I have long thought that the result of a dirty play should never factor into the level of discipline issued. If a play or hit is illegal as defined by the rules of that sport, then it is dirty.
In this case, I might be wrong.
I was shocked that Giroux was suspended at all for this hit. It was only called a minor penalty on the ice, so the officials must not have thought the hit was quite as nasty as Mr. Shanahan clearly did. He cited several reasons for the suspension in a short video.
He says he looked at Giroux's entire shift when deciding his fate, and states that Giroux was clearly upset at a referee just before slashing and hitting Zubrus. If he is serious, then he is telling fans that his rulings are going to be extremely subjective.
I can't help but wonder why Nashville's Shea Weber wasn't suspended for grabbing the back of a players helmet and smashing his face into the glass. Twice. I thought that was much more deserving of a suspension, and I have no idea what Shanahan's rational was for that decision. Maybe Weber was smiling and laughing at the beginning of that shift, so he couldn't possibly have ill intent.
Either way, you have now taken Philadelphia's biggest star and benched him for what could be the series-deciding game. I think it is extremely unfair to the Flyers organization, and Flyers fans have a good reason to be mad.
Shanahan, to my knowledge, has never before used a player's arguing with a ref before taking a bad penalty as his reasoning for discipline.
Was the hit illegal? Yes, but because it was interference, not a head shot. This was a tough call for Shanahan and the league, but I think they got this one wrong. Let's hope it doesn't end the Flyers season.