In yet another perplexing suspension by head disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan, he handed out a three game suspension to Leafs left winger Clarke MacArthur for his hit to the head of Wings winger Justin Abdelkader Friday night in Detroit.
After looking over the hit with a fine tooth comb, I believe Shanahan was out to lunch with this suspension. MacArthur, from my vantage point, never really hit him with much force, as it looked like more of a glancing blow to Abdelkader.
Nevertheless, Leafs fans everywhere are extremely dumbfounded as to why this hit was deemed a three-game suspension, while a hit many deemed to be dirtier, the Chris Neil hit on Mikhail Grabovski earlier in the week, was pronounced okay by NHL standards.
Had Grabovski left the game with a concussion and didn't return, would there have been a suspension? Likely a 99 percent chance that a suspension would've followed.
Now the Leafs will open up the 2011-12 season with their best left winger sitting in the press boxes for two games to start the year. It's not the end of the world for Leafs fans, but in my opinion, this could be the beginning of the end of hard hitting hockey if Shanahan continues to rule with an iron fist.
James Wisniewski was suspended the final three games of the preseason, and the first eight games of the regular season for an illegal hit on Wild player Cal Clutterbuck.
This I think to be a legitimate suspension because a.) the play was over, the horn sounded, b.) Wisniewski used his elbow and jumped at Clutterbuck, c.) he targeted the head region and d.) he was a repeat offender, having been suspended by the NHL previously--if you remember that taunt he gave Sean Avery.
According to Shanahan, MacArthur could have hit Abdelkader in his shoulders rather than his head. He is right there, but the force MacArthur used wasn't much at all. Abdelkader's head was down, admiring the pass he didn't receive, and he got a glancing hit. Had MacArthur ran at him with his elbows up, I would think differently, but right now, an overwhelming feeling of disgust circles my brain neurons.
A day later, more and more analysts believed Abdelkader dove and embellished the hit and made it out to be more than it was.
So if Neil can get off with a fine for a check to the head (as well as being a repeat offender), yet MacArthur, for a hit that was a clearly less dangerous hit and didn't result in the player leaving the ice for a concussion test, gets three games, Brian Burke and company should be livid about this.
If I was MacArthur, I may not have been so candid in my interviews after the suspension.
Hard hits in hockey will now be questioned thoroughly, dissected like a high-school fetal pig, and frowned upon by most of the casual NHL fans. The days of hard-hitting, tough hockey could be over. Who knows, in a few years the NHL could grandfather in the ability to play without a helmet again.
Lets hope that day never comes.
MacArthur is the ninth player suspended by Shanahan in the pre-season. He’s eligible to return to the lineup October 15th, against the Calgary Flames.