Brendan Shanahan Bringing Overdue Direction, Authority to Player Safety

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Brendan Shanahan Bringing Overdue Direction, Authority to Player Safety
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
Already tagged "The Shanahammer," Brenden Shanahan has brought a swift and well-spoken system of punishment to a league that badly needed one.

When it was announced that Brendan Shanahan would be taking Colin Campbell's much-maligned post as the NHL's Senior Vice President of Player Safety and Hockey Operations, the league was told to expect a harsher, more predictable, more clearly-defined system of supplemental discipline.

With so many grinders and goons trying to make noise (read: lay enormous hits whenever possible) at their respective training camps, Camp Shanahan has already gotten a plateful in just a few weeks of preseason hockey.

And as those players are finding out, Campbell's Wheel of NHL Justice has been thoroughly usurped by Shanahan's Laser-Guided, Bunker-Busting Missiles of Nuclear Punishment. Or something.

The number of suspensions handed out in the first half of the preseason alone is nearing double-digits, with some players receiving bans that will erase the remainder of their exhibition games and extend into the beginning of regular season play.

For a league accustomed to toothless, directionless, meaningless discipline (or an utter lack thereof), it appears Shanahan and his staff have set their precedents, with each ensuing suspension enforcing the standard.

Already, Shanahan has addressed the complaints aimed at Campbell over the last few years. Rule 48.1, which addresses hits in which an opponent's head is the principal point of contact, has become ironclad this preseason.

In years past, the rule was only sort of enforced, with exceptions made for head shots which took place behind the net, in certain areas of the offensive zone, when the player was within a certain distance of the puck...

One can see how the old rule might have been lost on men who skate at speeds sometimes exceeding 30 mph.

Under the new regime, head contact of nearly all sorts is coming under scrutiny. Rule 48.1 has been a star of Shanahan's video explanations so far, defined as such:

"A hit resulting in contact with an opponent's head where the head is targeted and the principal point of contact is not permitted."

Shanahan's lengthy and detailed video explanations are quite the departure from Colin Campbell's tepid statements on suspensions and non-suspensions, many of which could have been released in their entirety with only a tweet or two.

Beyond the video explanations, the punishments are actually consistent with stated intentions. James Wisniewski, listed under NHL rules as a repeat offender, received one of the heftiest suspensions of the preseason—an eight-game ban for a blatant elbow to the skull of Cal Clutterbuck.

First-time offenders have received lesser punishments than Wisniewski.

For the NHL, this means players in the wrong will receive suspensions (and lost pay) that may actually put a moment of hesitation into their next big hit along the boards. With so many players lost to concussion, and perceived dirty hits coming with such frequency, Shanahan's relentless but fair methods are exactly what the league needs.

At the jump is a look at some of the hits which have warranted suspensions, hits which are certainly receiving consideration, and a few examples of Shanahan's detailed video explanations.

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