Columbus Blue Jackets Press Conference Introducing New Players Jeff Carter and James Wisniewski

NHL hands James Wisniewski a heavy suspension that includes eight regular season games

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Previous suspensions should have illustrated this point already, but let there be no doubt: Brendan Shanahan is for real.

The NHL’s new head of discipline hasn’t been shy about sending messages with suspensions so far, but Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman James Wisniewski received the harshest punishment yet – it will sideline the team’s expensive new blueliner for the remainder of the preseason and eight regular season games.

That blows Jody Shelley’s preseason-plus-five-games ruling out of the water, especially when you consider Wisniewski’s far more crucial role with the Blue Jackets. One can see the difference in the amount of money Wisniewski will forfeit compared to other players. While Brad Staubitz will give up a bit more than $9,000 and Shelley’s wallet will be short about $67K, missing almost 10 percent of Columbus’ 2011-12 season will cost Wisniewski a whopping $536,586.36.

Breaking down the punishment

Wisniewski administered an illegal hit to the head of perennial NHL hits leader Cal Clutterbuck during the waning moments of the Blue Jackets’ Sept. 23 exhibition game against the Minnesota Wild. Wisniewski received a minor penalty at the time of the infraction. He already missed yesterday’s contest against the Buffalo Sabres as the league mulled over the decision, while he’ll sit out tonight’s match against Washington, Thursday’s contest against Minnesota and Friday’s preseason closer at Carolina.

Obviously, the Blue Jackets will be much more concerned with those regular season games. Here’s a quick look at Columbus’ upcoming schedule, including the first game he’ll be eligible for (in bold).

Oct. 7: home vs. Nashville
Oct. 8: at Minnesota
Oct. 10: home vs. Vancouver
Oct. 12: home vs. Colorado
Oct. 15: at Dallas
Oct. 18: home vs. Dallas
Oct. 21: at Detroit
Oct. 22: at Ottawa
Oct. 25: home vs. Detroit

That span of games shows just how big a blow this should be for the Blue Jackets and their pricey new defenseman. Wisniewski will miss two games against Central Division teams and seven contests versus Western Conference opponents.

A history of illegal violence

To some, this might even rank as an excessive penalty, but don’t forget that Wisniewski is a repeat offender. The rambunctious defenseman has been suspended on four different occasions before today:

  • Two games on Oct. 12, 2010.
  • Eight games on March 18, 2010.
  • Two games on Nov. 2, 2009.
  • One game on March 12, 2008.

Considering his lengthy history of questionable behavior, it’s hard to say if this punishment will get through to him, although Wisniewski must have been feeling pressure to justify that new contract right away. This is a terrible way to begin a hefty new contract and while the point might not really sink in for Wisniewski considering his pattern of mistakes, hopefully other players might start to get the message that illegal hits won’t be tolerated.

If not, we might end up watching a lot of Shanahan videos this season – and I’m not talking about funny commercials, either. Here’s the new head of discipline’s latest suspension explanation video.

Stars end Capitals’ winning streak, pass Blackhawks for West lead

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For two periods, the Dallas Stars seemed to say, “Are you sure the Washington Capitals are the best team in the NHL?”

They chased Braden Holtby and built a 4-0 lead through those first 40 minutes, and that was enough … but barely. The Stars beat the Capitals 4-3 on Saturday, which accomplished the following:

  • Dallas ended Washington’s winning streak at five games. The Stars have now won three straight.
  • This win slides the Stars ahead of the Chicago Blackhawks for first place in the highly competitive Central Division. While both teams sit at 77 standings points, Dallas holds three games in hand.
  • By passing Chicago, the Stars now lead the Western Conference as a whole.

Impressive stuff. Some might even call it a statement game, although others may hold that nail-biting ending against them (possibly arguing that the Stars’ flaws may come back to haunt them in the playoffs).

Dallas’ biggest concern likely has little to do with doubters. Instead, they must monitor the statuses of forwards Tyler Seguin and Cody Eakin.

Long story short, the Stars are red-hot, yet bigger challenges likely lie ahead.

Blackhawks fall to Ducks in OT, lose Hossa to injury

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The Chicago Blackhawks are on edge on Saturday, and it’s not because of what’s currently a close game against the Anaheim Ducks.

(Not that they’re indifferent toward a match against their opponents from last year’s conference final match, mind you.)

Instead, the Blackhawks are quite concerned about the health of Marian Hossa, who needed help off of the ice following an awkward, scary-looking crash into the boards. (Hampus Lindholm delivered the hip check that sent Hossa sprawling, in case you’re wondering.)

You can see that moment in the video above, while My Regular Face’s GIF also captures that troubling moment:

It’s too early to tell if Hossa will bounce back or miss some time from this. Stay tuned for potential updates.

Update: Joel Quenneville seems optimistic about Hossa, broadly speaking:

Ryan Getzlaf scored the overtime game-winner as the Ducks won 3-2 (OT).

Understatement: Saturday was a rough night for Panthers

Nashville Predators center Colin Wilson (33) checks Florida Panthers center Jonathan Huberdeau (11) during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)
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If it weren’t for Mike Yeo and the Minnesota Wild, you could argue that the Florida Panthers suffered from the worst night so far.

You can see that Saturday was unpleasant merely from looking at the scoreboard: the Nashville Predators pummeled the Panthers by an unkind score of 5-0.

The pain goes beyond that … literally so.

For one thing, Quinton Howden suffered an upper-body injury and did not return. That’s no good, but if you want to feel sick to your stomach, footage of Brandon Pirri‘s likely lower-body injury (ankle maybe?) may do the trick.

(Seriously, you may be happier if you don’t look.)

The Panthers didn’t make an announcement about Pirri one way or another, so we’ll see if he somehow avoided anything significant.

Either way, it was a night this team would like to forget.

Fractured jaw from fight sidelines Chris Stewart for 4-8 weeks

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It’s unlikely that Chris Stewart will generate another 30-goal season in the NHL, but he still might be missed by the Anaheim Ducks.

The team announced that the ornery forward is expected to miss four-to-eight weeks with a fractured jaw. If that’s the recovery window, Stewart may go into the playoffs a little rusty (if he can get in any regular season games at all).

The Ducks didn’t elaborate, but the Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline believes that the injury happened during a fight with Dalton Prout of the Columbus Blue Jackets. You can see that brawl in the video above.

One bright side for Anaheim: if they believe that they need to replace what Stewart brings to the table (rugged play with a dash of offense), then at least this injury happened before the the Feb. 29 trade deadline.