Brendan Shanahan has had a busy week. As the Don of discipline in the NHL, Shanahan has served out six suspensions this week, for a total of 28-games.
The fireworks began with James Neal, who received a five game suspension for kneeing Brad Marchand in the head, and continued with suspensions of Dion Phaneuf, Jared Cowan, Richard Panik, David Clarkson and ended with the 15-game ban to Shawn Thornton of the Boston Bruins.
Of course Thornton was involved in the much controversial incident with Brooks Orpik, in which Thornton took Orpik down from behind and delivered two blows – with somewhere in the melee, either between his head hitting the ice and the punches, was rendered unconscious and needed to be carried off on a stretcher.
It was an ugly incident, a perfect example of what exactly the league is trying to get out of the league, so them trying to make an example of him is perfectly understandable. But on top of the controversy, the suspension itself has created more controversy.
Some have called it too much. A lot have called for a season long suspension, or go as extreme as a lifelong ban.
I don’t know Thornton. I have never meet him or been in the same room as him. Talked to someone who is close to him who said that he is a very nice and caring person. Doesn’t surprise me. Most players who make their living with their fist are among the nicest people you will meet anywhere.
What Thornton did was wrong, don’t get my words get misread here, but what this suspension shows is two things;
If there was any doubt if superstars get a different treatment – it was answered here.
It has become obvious that the league is more concerned with the ‘result’ of incidents as oppose what should really matter – the intent behind each one of these occurrences.
It’s hard to argue that what Neal did to Marchand was intentional, and he knew it. Not only did he extend his knee out, he made a break for his bench immediately.
The NHL is trying to get plays like this out of the game, and that’s awesome, but the idea is to take all of this plays out right? If the league wanted to send a message to the fans and the sporting world, they wouldn’t wait until a player is motionless on the ice to drop the hammer.
Do they really think that five games for a knee like that is a true deterrent? Give him five for the knee, and another five for the clear intent. That’s a message.
So whatever side of the spectrum you land when it comes to the Thornton suspension – whether you feel it’s justifiable or not enough think of this;
The league failed the sport and their players once again by still not acting upon the
Anthony Murphy is the Editor at Pucks of a Feather. You can reach him by email [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @AMurphyTFC.