Earlier today, the NHL’s Senior VP of Player Safety Brendan Shanahan handed down a two-game suspension to Buffalo Sabres forward Brad Boyes for his hit to the head of Leafs’ forward Joe Colborne. Two pre-season games may not sound like much, but suspending a player for a borderline hit was just another consistent decision during the young preseason. Shanahan has been swift and tough while delivering his justice in his first week as league disciplinarian—the Boyes penalty for a seemingly unintentional hit to the head is just another example.
In the video released by Shanahan and the NHL, the league’s hammer explains in detail his reasoning for suspending the Sabres’ forward for the next two preseason games. Missing a couple of meaningless games in September may not sound like a huge deal, but it’s a symbolic statement punishing a player for a hit that would have been a borderline play last season. He leaves no gray area:
“Colborne’s head is the principle point of contact of Boyes’ hit. While the play develops quickly, Colborne makes no sudden movements just prior to, or simultaneous with, the hit; placing the onus on Boyes not to hit him in the head. While I believe Boyes’ assertion that he did not intentionally target the head, this is a reckless hit and is now illegal.”
He goes on to explain that Boyes has no prior history with dirty hits and Colborne was not injured on the play—both of which played into his ruling. While it’s a slippery slope Shanahan is walking when he includes that the lack of injury played into his decision, at least he’s giving a full explanation to fans, the players, and the organizations around the league.
Now that you’ve seen the play and heard the full explanation, what do you think of the two-game suspension? Do you think it a good precedent to set early in the season or do you think it was just an accidental hit that should have been let go? You make the call in the comments.