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.
Last night in Los Angeles, Kings forward Milan Lucic received a match penalty after skating the entire width of the ice to give San Jose’s Logan Couture a two-hand shove to the face.
Lucic didn’t hurt Couture, who had caught Lucic with an open-ice hit that Lucic didn’t like. Couture’s smiling, mocking face was good evidence that the Sharks’ forward was going to be OK.
This morning, Lucic was still in disbelief that he was penalized so harshly.
“I didn’t cross any line,” Lucic said, per Rich Hammond of the O.C. Register. “Believe me, if my intentions were to hurt him, I would have hurt him.”
While Lucic knew he deserved a penalty, he said after the game that he didn’t “know why it was called a match penalty.” His coach, Darryl Sutter, agreed, calling it “a borderline even roughing penalty.”
And though former NHL referee Kerry Fraser believes a match penalty was indeed warranted, Lucic said this morning that he hasn’t heard from the NHL about any possible supplemental discipline.
Nor for that matter has Dustin Brown, after his high hit on Couture in the first period.
In conclusion, it’s good to have hockey back.
Related: Sutter says Kings weren’t ‘interested’ in checking the Sharks
A statement from Raffi Torres:
“I accept the 41-game suspension handed down to me by the NHL’s Department of Player Safety. I worked extremely hard over the last two years following reconstructive knee surgery to resume my NHL career, and this is the last thing I wanted to happen. I am disappointed I have put myself in a position to be suspended again. I sincerely apologize to Jakob for the hit that led to this suspension, and I’m extremely thankful that he wasn’t seriously injured as a result of the play. I also want to apologize to my Sharks teammates and the organization.”
A statement from San Jose GM Doug Wilson:
“The Sharks organization fully supports the NHL’s supplementary discipline decision regarding Raffi. While we do not believe there was any malicious intent, this type of hit is unacceptable and has no place in our game. There is a difference between playing hard and crossing the line and there is no doubt, in this instance, Raffi crossed that line. We’re very thankful that Jakob was not seriously injured as a result of this play.”
Silfverberg says he expects to play Saturday when the Ducks open their regular season Saturday in San Jose.