Written by: Larry “The Nucks IceMan” Johnson
Brendan Shanahan got out of the gate as the new NHL minister of justice in a big way. He’s handed out 31 games in suspension and $700,000 plus in fines, but will this continue?
There seems to be pressure from some of the NHL teams GM’s, and now even the player agents are stepping into the scene. With the bombastic Don Cherry insinuating that Shanahan was taking the hitting out of hockey, how soon before Shanahan is a shell of Colin Campbell?
By the way, has Cherry’s shelf life expired? That’s another topic for another time.
Campbell did his best, but over the course of time his powers were eroded when it came to dealing out lengthy suspensions. I’m certain that the NHL GM’s put pressure on Gary Bettman for Campbell to consider carefully the suspension of the “star players”. Why else has Alex Ovechkin escaped punishment for flagrant hits from behind on more than one occasion?
With the hit on Sedin last night from Columbus Blue Jackets Marc Methot, this is exactly what the NHL is trying to remove from the game. If Methot is let off the hook just because Henrik was not injured, isn’t the NHL right back to square one?
This whole exercise by Shanahan in the pre-season was to educate the players on what the infraction of checking from behind looks like. Yet, there are still players that just don’t get the message.
There has to be some onus placed on the hit-tee also. Just placing themselves with their back to the check, or turning at the last second, and expect the checker to adjust after committing to the hit, is not a fair expectation. If you’ve ever been to a game and sat at ice level, you can understand the speed that this game is played at.
There seems to be a fine line here on whether the hit-tee set up the hit from behind, or whether the checker just plowed right through the hit. As I watch these hits over and over, playing back the check in slow motion, you can see that some of the players are definitely letting up on the force that they are using.
Even Methot said as much in the Vancouver Sun, “I let up. I’m sure that showed up on the replay.”
The injury that I saw to Henrik was Methot’s knee hitting the back of Sedins knee, which you could see Henrik trying to shake off after the hit. But, it could have easily been Henrik’s head going into the boards also.
Personally, I have watched the NHL players adjust to rule changes for decades and I know that they are a group that can adapt to this hitting from behind, without driving a player in to the boards, such as I’ve seen in the past. Mason Raymond is an excellent example of that type of check.
I would hope that Shanahan is not deterred by the NHL GM’s, from staying the course, and is allowed to continue on his path of handing out the suspensions that are warranted after review. If the NHL is serious about taking the head shots and checking from behind out, before someone gets critically injured, then the only way that can be done, is by allowing Shanahan to do his job.
Ice Chips: Cody Hodgson continues on his quest to win a permanent spot with the Canucks. I felt he was the best forward last night and it wasn’t just based on his first goal of the season.
He was the most dangerous Canuck on the power play, his defensive reads were good, and he was making plays in the attacking zone. Cody seems to have a knack for finding the open spot and that was one of the reasons he scored that tip-in goal.
I feel if Hodgson had a more physical player on his line, like Chris Higgins instead of Mikael Samuelsson or Marco Sturm, that Cody would be even better. Are you listening AV?
If Hodgson has many more games like this, the Canucks will have to make a spot for him on the team, and I’m not speaking of fourth line either.
Keith Ballard continues to play a strong game and you can see that his skating is much stronger than last season at this same time. Right now he looks like the best D-man of the group.
The Canucks continue to come out in the opening period as flat as a week’s old wine left uncorked. Shots-on-goal were 11-2 at the end of the first period and they did not get a shot on goal until after the 10 minute mark.
Another sign of the poor starts, which is now three games and counting (last pre-season and two regular), is the crispness of the passes from stick to stick. In the first period I counted six that were in the skates and another handful were not even close to the mark. These guys look like they’re still in pre-season form.
Turning point of the game – was Cory Schneider’s save on the penalty shot.
By the time you have read this you will know that there was no further action was taken on Methot’s hit on Henrik Sedin. Interesting how this has changed in the last couple of weeks.
Another instance where the instigating rule should come back. Let the players police themselves and you would see how quickly this type of hit gets eliminated from the game.
Credits – AP, Getty Images, Google Images and Yahoo Sports!
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Filed under: Vancouver Canucks