James O'Brien

Hockey Daily Dose

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Suspending Disbelief

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


Calling Brendan Shanahan’s new suspension/disciplinary guidelines “unpredictable” isn’t totally accurate, because it does seem like the former power forward has some tendencies. Instead, I'd lean a little more toward the word "erratic" or maybe even "arbitrary."

 

He clearly weighs a player’s history of transgressions heavily in his decisions, which almost brings back grade school threats of an error of judgment going on a student’s “permanent record.” There also seem to be some hits that get a little more leeway and some that are becoming taboo (checking from behind into the boards seems especially frowned upon).

 

If you ask me, the most irksome trend is deciding based on contextual matters, rather than the illegality of the hit itself. By that I mean that there's too much emphasis on two things: 1) how a player was punished in the actual game and 2) if the “victim” suffered a severe injury. The most obvious case can be seen in the handling of two knee-to-knee infractions. Kevin Porter received a four-game punishment for a knee-to-knee hit on David Booth, which in retrospect seemed to happen because Booth has been sidelined for a significant amount of time and because Porter only received a light penalty in that night's game. Meanwhile, Adam McQuaid received a harsher in-game penalty for his knee-to-knee on Nick Foligno, but a slap on the wrist ($2,500 fine) because of that ejection and because Foligno managed to return to the game.

 

Personally, I'd like to see the punishment fit the crime rather than the blind luck-based result of a given crime.

 

Moving on, let's look at a few rulings that I more or less agreed with. Monday’s round of news presented the latest suspensions of note as Milan Lucic received a one-game suspension for boarding Zac Rinaldo while Rene Bourque got two games for his hit on Brent Seabrook. Lucic already served his time on Monday (the Bruins beat the Habs 3-2 without him) while Bourque will miss Tuesday and Thursday’s contests before being eligible to return against the Vancouver Canucks on Friday. The biggest question (especially since Rinaldo is fine, or else I’d have to apologize for ignoring him) is what kind of impact this will have on Seabrook. He’s taken three dirty hits of note in the past few seasons and last two came about seven months apart. Seabrook seems like the kind of tough player who would fight through an injury that he probably shouldn’t, but in this case, he ... probably shouldn’t.


GIROUX WANTS BACK IN TOO

 

Speaking of talented players who might return from an unlucky collision sooner than expected, Claude Giroux reportedly skated hard in his second practice since suffering that unfortunate concussion. He more or less described himself as day-to-day, hinting that a return this week might be in the realm of possibility. I honestly find that pretty hard to believe – and maybe even a little scary considering the Flyers’ history of stars making tragically hasty returns from head injuries – but perhaps his situation isn’t as severe as many feared.

 

My imaginary Monopoly money is on Giroux waiting until 2012 to play again, but maybe that's just because I play it too safe.

 

After the jump: new coach talk, quick hits and injury bits.



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James O'Brien is the Hockey Daily Dose's author and has been a contributor to NBC's Pro Hockey Talk for more than two years. Follow him on Twitter.
Email :James O'Brien



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