Boston Bruin forward Brad Marchand got a five-game suspension from Brendan Shanahan and there's an argument it should have been more. Whatever the amount though it's more than he would have received under the neglectful reign of Colin Campbell.
Shanahan, it seems, has already doled out as many suspensions as Sweden's junior team had shots in the WJC final in Calgary last week. Some included videos explaining his decisions, others were just written words. Some are met with exasperation from the player on the receiving end, feeling it should have been less, while others are met with relief, realizing it could have been more.
Marchand's excuse for clipping Vancouver Canuck defender Sami Salo was that he was protecting himself, which holds about as much water as the U.S. saying they went into Iraq for the same reason. And like the U.S. finding no WMD's, Shanahan found no basis to Marchand's claim. In fact there was a minor altercation between the two players only moments before the cowardly hit, which suggests the real reason was retaliation.
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Most of us have lost count and need to reference a file but, without doing so, while the Marchand suspension was not the 58th - the number of shots Sweden got on Russian goalie Andrei Makarov - doled out by Shanahan, it was the 28th or 29th. But Shanahan has a chance at totaling 58 suspensions before the season's end, likely more than Campbell totaled in 12 or so years doing the same job.
When Brian Burke let Gary Suter get away with clobbering Paul Kariya upside the head in 1998 - he gave Suter a paltry 4 games while Kariya missed 8 months, the Olympics and was never the same again - his inadequate response signaled he wasn't right for the job. Someone was needed in the position of league disciplinarian with the strength of character, intelligence and courage, to get it right. Campbell, himself once a tough player, seemed a good choice.
But in his tenure things worsened. There were a litany of vicious hits that went either unpunished - like the Matt Cooke hit on Marc Savard that likely ended Savard's career, or the Dave Steckel hit on Sidney Crosby - or that got only a whimper of a response, such as Chris Pronger's elbow to Dean McAmmond's head in the 2007 Stanley Cup playoffs (one game). Imagine those hits being punished with 10 or more games. Would that have had an effect on how others played the game? Logic seems to dictate it would but we never got to find out.
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The results of Campbell's lack of a firm hand? The NHL did not cultivate a climate of respect and players declared open season on one another. Winning is huge, no question, but winning without honor, no. Was there honor in the blow to McAmmond's head from Pronger? None. Pronger - ironically now badly concussed himself - should not have played another game that Stanley Cup season and if he had not Savard might well be healthy and playing right now.
But instead we have Savard needlessly missing a Stanley Cup run and probably the rest of his career; Sidney Crosby, the best hockey has to offer, uncertain if he'll play again; Markus Naslund suffering a head shot from Steve Moore and Moore fell upon by Todd Bertuzzi and out for his career; countless NHL players past and present, having to deal with the potential long-term effects of an avoidable-with-the-right-mindset from the league, shot to the head.
So let us be happy there has been these many suspensions, and welcome more, for this is the NHL season of transition. The season to take us from having to watch unneeded violence to watching tough, hard-nosed, fast-paced hockey where we don't have to explain to our kids why, instead of playing the puck or bodychecking him, Brad Marchand attacked Sami Salo.
The season that went from Colin Campbell to Brendan Shanahan.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com