Brendan Shanahan, the NHL’s vice president in charge of player safety, continues to be a busy man, as the Stanley Cup playoffs have quickly become a three-ring circus of bad behavior. But even before the Penguins-Flyers series turned into a “Slapshot” movie sequel over the weekend, and even before the Rangers and Senators started trading head shots and pig-piling on one another, there was the Shea Weber hit on Henrik Zetterberg at the end of Game 1 between Nashville and Detroit.
As I wrote last week, I thought that WWE-style move by Weber merited a one-game suspension from the league. And listening to Shanahan in a radio interview with WFAN in New York this morning, I get the sense he might agree, in hindsight.
Shanahan spent most of his interview on WFAN defending his decisions on suspensions involving the Rangers (Carl Hagelin) and Senators (Matt Carkner) in their Eastern Conference series. But the subject inevitably turned to Shanahan’s first playoff ruling, in which he decided to fine Weber for his “reckless” action — giving him the maximum $2,500 — but not suspend the Predators’ captain.
“I looked at that one, and I’m not happy with that play,” Shanahan said on the “Boomer and Carton” show. “And I’ll say in the bigger picture, too — I found that this was the case during the season as well — if I made a decision that people didn’t agree with, or a day or two later people were saying, ‘You got that one wrong,’ a week later they would try to hold me to that standard and then question my consistency if I move forward. The playoffs evolve. The game evolves. I have to try and keep evolving with them. It’s not like the regular season where every team has 82 games to play (or) everyone’s playing on equal footing. They change depending on the score of the series or how many games are left in the series. Game 1 and 2 is different than 6 and 7. …
“I investigated that hit,” Shanahan continued. “I called Detroit that night. I think that he pushed his face in the glass. I was very close to a one-game suspension on that. And when I talked to Detroit, and I talked to the general manager (Ken Holland), he basically said that the player was fine. You know, but I think it’s a fair argument.”
At that point, Shanahan was interrupted and asked again about the perception that his judgements are being dictated by the results of the actions — the injuries — rather than the actions themselves.
“It’s not all based on the injury, but the injury is a contributing factor,” he said earlier in the interview. “I mean, it is in society. The degrees and the levels of a punishment for any act … If you go and pop a guy in the bar and he limps back off, you might get kicked out of the bar. But if that same guy lays back down, that same punch might cost you some time in jail.”