Since I am a fan of the Colorado Avalanche, Brendan Shanahan has always been one of my sworn enemies throughout my life in hockey.
Today, despite the numerous battles between Avalanche and Red Wings, I believe Shanahan may be the guy that has the potential to affect the NHL in the most positive manner in years.
As much as the game of hockey has gained traction throughout the past couple of years with the more wide-open style of game that showcases the speed and talent of the players, there has always been one constant nagging flaw that stood out like a sore thumb.
The consistency with which suspensions and supplemental discipline were handled by previous disciplinarian Colin Campbell was laughable at the best times.
The league would talk big and look to make an example out of somebody with big fines or suspensions, but when the time came to show the same type of no-nonsense attitude from a star player, the league (or more specifically, Campbell) would stick their tail firmly between their legs and find some kind of excuse to not suspend the player.
Couple the inconsistency with the way Campbell "dealt" with officials that made certain calls against his son and the team on which his son played, and whatever progress the league had made in the eyes of fans began to screech to an abrupt halt.
How can a league be taken seriously when a chart like this one can make one simultaneously laugh and cry because the chart is not only funny because of its irreverence, but because it so accurately describes the ineptitude with which Campbell worked?
This year has the potential to be a completely different beast with Colin Campbell having stepped down at the end of last season, a decision supported by Gary Bettman and celebrated by hockey fans across the world (except perhaps in Boston...just kidding).
Shanahan, who has already been serving as the NHL Vice President of Hockey and Business Development, now steps into the role of disciplinarian and has the ability to bring something to this office that Campbell wouldn't know if it knocked him blind-sided into the boards: dignity.
Shanahan has been called a lot of things by a lot of people throughout his career in hockey, but he has always been respected. What's even more important than that is that Shanahan has always respected the game of hockey.
Having been the guy receiving and delivering the kind of hits that the league is now trying to eliminate, Shanahan is uniquely qualified to be the one handing out discipline as he knows the true dangers of each situation.
At the moment there is no way to determine what Shanahan will be like as the principal of the school of hockey, but I for one am quite optimistic about what is to come.
In a time that has had far too much focus go to dirty hits and inconsistent punishment for dirty hits, Brendan Shanahan might actually end up being the best thing to happen to the NHL in quite a while.