Shanahan explains how he’ll approach his new role as league disciplinarian

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There are plenty of things to look forward to next season. Will the Bruins be able to repeat? Will the Canucks be able to take the next step? Will all of the Panthers’ changes make a difference in the standings? The list goes on and on. But one of the most interesting changes has nothing to do with an individual team. How will Brendan Shanahan do as the NHL’s new head disciplinarian? It’s an important question that will shape the game as much as any individual play, player, or team on the ice next season.

Since the moment it was announced he’d be taking over for Colin Campbell, Shanahan has explained the importance of communication at all levels. Not only is it important to make the right decisions for each possible suspension, but it’s important that everyone knows what goes into each decision.

From his introductory press conference:

“I think communicating with the players, I think communicating with my peers at the NHL, and I think communicating with the NHLPA and some of my friends there. I think it’s just a matter of really building a consensus, moving towards next season, using the next few months to sort of prepare myself for when the season starts.

But I absolutely think that in this day and age constant communication is important. I remember as a player you really don’t think about supplemental discipline until it’s happening to you.”

Part of the communication process will be the transparency of the suspension process. Time and time again, fans and media members alike have been dumbfounded with the league’s decision making process revolving around controversial plays. Part of Shanahan’s plan is to make sure everyone knows the thought process that goes into each and every hearing—whether a suspension is warranted or not. Recently he told Nicholas Cotsonika of Yahoo! Sports his plans for the upcoming season:

“You might not agree with our decision, but you’re going to understand how we got to that decision. This is not a black-and-white job. It’s not completely predictive. But over a certain amount of time, I hope that they sort of start to understand what the strike zone is.”

Hopefully people will start to understand the guidelines by the end of the season. If Shanahan plainly explains what constitutes a hit, what doesn’t, and why they made each decision, the players will be able to adjust their games accordingly. Unfortunately, just because the league office aims to be more consistent and transparent, doesn’t necessarily mean that it will immediately trickle down to the players. Suspensions will be important to send messages, but not everyone will receive the message until it happens to them.

Again Shanahan talks to Cotsonika on Yahoo! Sports:

“I’m still a big believer that one- and two- and three-game suspensions for certain infractions to certain players are really effective teaching moments. Maybe a hockey play goes bad, or there’s a play on the edge and something happens. A two- or three-game suspension has a devastating effect on them, and they change their behavior.

“There are other players that sort of seem to keep reappearing, and the communication I’ve had from players and the union—for the sake of the game and the safety of the game—those are the guys that might be dealt with a little bit harsher.”

It’ll be interesting to see what happens the first time someone delivers a questionable hit next season. Instead of spinning the “Wheel of Justice,” next year, we should get a glimpse behind the curtain for the first time ever. We’ve always been left with questions like, “What were they thinking with that suspension?” Now, we’ll replace those questions with, “I can’t believe that is why they gave him a suspension!”

Hopefully down the road, those statements will finally be replaced with, “Yep, that decision makes total sense.” Hey, we can dream, right?

2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs Schedule for Sunday, April 23

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Only two series remain in the first-round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs, and both of them continue on Sunday.

First, the Boston Bruins look to push their first-round series to a seventh game after their double overtime win on Friday when they host the Ottawa Senators on Sunday afternoon. That game will be followed by Washington Capitals trying to, as Barry Trotz wants to see, push the Toronto Maple Leafs off the cliff.

Here is everything you for Sunday’s games, both of which will be shown on the NBC networks and streamed online.

Boston Bruins vs. Ottawa Senators

Time: 3:00 p.m. ET

Network: NBC (Stream Online Here)

Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Washington Capitals

Time: 7:00 p.m. ET

Network: NBCSN (Stream Online Here)

Video: Oilers showed off depth beyond McDavid in beating Sharks

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As the Art Ross winner and Hart Trophy frontrunner, there’s no doubt that Connor McDavid is the catalyst for the Edmonton Oilers.

Still, the scary thing for opponents is that, while he created chances against the San Jose Sharks, McDavid wasn’t exactly lighting them up for points.

Nope, as Mike Rupp and Jeremy Roenick discuss in the video above, the Oilers advanced thanks as much to depth scorers – and deft goaltending from Cam Talbot – as they did because of McDavid’s blistering combination of skill and speed.

Now, the Anaheim Ducks rank as an interesting opponent. While the Sharks could slow McDavid with one of the few blueliners who could really give him trouble – relatively speaking – in Marc-Edouard Vlasic, it remains to be seen if Anaheim can accomplish the same.

(A fully healthy Hampus Lindholm would increase their odds, mind you.)

Either way, the Oilers’ “other guys” deserve some credit, and they get it in the video above.

The West’s next round is now set (and wide-open)

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Saturday was a great day for fans of brevity and revenge.

Three of a possible three series ended on this day, with the Rangers dispatching the Canadiens, the Blues eliminating the “better” Wild, and the Oilers knocking off the Sharks in six.

The Rangers await either the Bruins or Senators and the Penguins face the winner of the Leafs – Capitals series out East, but we now know how the West shakes out.

St. Louis Blues vs. Nashville Predators

Both teams provided some of the upsets of this young postseason. Each features a red-hot goalie in Jake Allen and Pekka Rinne. Interesting.

Anaheim Ducks vs. Edmonton Oilers

There will be a lot of orange. We may also see a ton of goals with Ryan Getzlaf on fire, Oscar Klefbom headlining the list of unhealthy players and Connor McDavid possibly able to really take off against a Ducks defense that is beat up in its own right.

It’s already been a strange season out West, with the Kings missing the playoffs and first-round exits for the Sharks and Blackhawks. Get ready – and giddy – for things to get even weirder as the postseason goes along.

Oilers win first series since 2006 after Sharks fall crossbar short of overtime

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After making the playoffs for the first time since 2006, the Edmonton Oilers weren’t just “happy to be there.” They confirmed as much by eliminating the San Jose Sharks with a 3-1 victory in Game 6, winning the series 4-2.

Yes, those young Oilers just eliminated the team that represented the West in the 2016 Stanley Cup Final. Wow.

Ultimately, winning the breakaway battle in the second period indeed made the difference. Leon Draisaitl and Anton Slepyshev scored on their chances in the middle frame while Patrick Marleau could not; Slepyshev’s 2-0 goal ultimately became the series-clincher.

Now, that’s not to say that Marleau was a drag on San Jose. If this is it for one of the faces of the franchise, he had a great 2016-17, including generating the Sharks’ final goal of the postseason.

The Shark Tank was alive after Marleau reduced the Oilers’ lead to 2-1, and more than a few blood pressures rose – both in Edmonton and San Jose – after the Sharks got this close to tying things up.

Wow.

With this result, the West is set. The St. Louis Blues will take on the Nashville Predators while the Oilers face the Anaheim Ducks.

As much as people try to put the training wheels on Connor McDavid & Co., the West is wide-open enough that it’s not so outrageous to imagine a big run for Edmonton.

Beating the Sharks is a pretty nice way of adding an exclamation point to that statement win. And hey … they beat the Sharks last time around, too.