It's safe to say that NHL head disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan has been disappointing in the early goings of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but he seems to be coming around.
Phoenix Coyotes winger Raffi Torres was suspended indefinitely by the NHL on Wednesday after delivering a blindside hit on the Chicago Blackhawks' Marian Hossa in Game 3 on Tuesday. And while a hearing is scheduled for Friday in New York, it's hard to imagine Torres making it back to the playoffs this season.
Shanahan was criticized throughout the league when he didn't suspend the Nashville Predators' Shea Weber after he smashed Henrik Zetterberg's head into the glass in Game 1. Part of his explanation was that Zetterberg didn't get hurt; therefore, a $2,500 fine would be appropriate.
As a result of Shanahan's actions (or inaction), the NHL was roundly bashed for not living up to its stance that it would be harsher on egregious contact. Now, after setting the wrong tone to start the playoffs, Shanahan has an opportunity to make good and push the league back in the right direction (gently push, that is).
Perhaps Shanahan is grasping that while hockey is naturally a violent sport, you do have the ability of keeping it from getting out of hand. No player wants to be suspended on the big stage, and this should be a message for the rest of the league. Shanahan needs to make it clear that players can't get away with cheap shots and undisciplined play on the ice.
The NHL playoffs got off to a rough start, both literally and figuratively, but perhaps the league's stance on Torres' big hit will smooth things out down the stretch this postseason. The last thing the NHL needs is to lose its stars due to rubbish acts.
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