The general consensus from fans, writers and even players and coaches is that Brendan Shanahan is making the league’s disciplinary rules more straightforward.
Sure, it’s true that some players are still a bit confused about which hits are legal and which ones go over the line. Martin Brodeur also points to the elephant in the room: what happens when a star player delivers a questionable hit? Still, few seem to miss the “Wheel of Justice” from Colin Campbell’s days.
That doesn’t mean that there are hits that some believe are slipping under the radar, though. For example, the Buffalo Sabres voiced their disapproval for a hit that Toronto Maple Leafs grinder Colby Armstrong delivered on Paul Gaustad.
Another highly debatable but ultimately punishment-free hit came when Ottawa Senators ruffian Chris Neil “stepped in” to Maple Leafs forward Mikhail Grabovski. TSN reports that Shanahan determined that the check didn’t violate Rule 48 for an illegal hit to the head, so Neil won’t be fined or suspended.
That might be irritating to Maple Leafs fans, but there’s at least some good news: Grabovski seems fine. The underrated Russian scorer returned to action after leaving the ice following that hit, although his situation might be worthy of at least keeping an eye on (since the league’s “Quiet Room” procedures have been criticized quite a bit).
Overall, it sounds like Leafs fans should utter a sigh of relief for a player who scored 29 goals and 58 points in what many hope is a sign of even better things to come. This is especially promising news since up-and-coming prospect Nazem Kadri injured his knee.
The Maple Leafs have a remarkably up-and-down schedule, so if they can keep their best players healthy, that would certainly help them weather some storms. Grabovski is one of those players, so it’s great to hear that he appears fine.
(H/T to Rotoworld.)