Former NHL referee Kerry Fraser has weighed in on the most controversial play — and ruling — of this young postseason: Shea Weber’s head-smash of Henrik Zetterberg at the end of Nashville’s 3-2 win over Detroit in Game 1.
The incident has caused an uproar, mostly for the lack of punishment levied against Weber. He received a two-minute roughing minor (as time expired, so no subsequent Detroit power play) and was issued a $2,500 fine from NHL discipline czar Brendan Shanahan, who gave this explanation:
“This was a reckless and reactionary play on which Weber threw a glancing punch and then shoved Zetterberg’s head into the glass.
“As is customary whenever Supplemental Discipline is being considered, we contacted Detroit following the game and were informed that Zetterberg did not suffer an apparent injury and should be in the lineup for Game 2.
“This play and the fine that addressed it will be significant factors in assessing any incidents involving Shea Weber throughout the remainder of the playoffs.”
In responding to Shanahan’s ruling, Fraser had this to say:
The continuation of Weber’s hostility toward Zetterberg cannot be construed as a hockey play once Shea cerebrally departed the ice and entered the ring by using an open palm on the back of Henrik’s helmet to push the Detroit player’s head, now cushioned by his hockey glove, into the glass.
In this unprecedented turnbuckle reflex maneuver on the ice, Shea Weber did pull up on the force he could have exerted against his defenseless opponent. Putting force or lack thereof aside, what Shea Weber did was optically horrible and potentially dangerous.
While Brendan Shanahan and his Player Safety Committee have made many excellent decisions (some popular – some not) in an effort to rid deliberate contact to the head and dangerous hits from the game the lack of suspension in this incident sends the wrong message.
Other notes from Fraser’s piece:
— He suggests that, moving forward, actions like Weber’s (slamming opponent’s head into the glass) should result in a match penalty for deliberate attempt to injure. That would result in an automatic suspension until a full review/hearing was conducted.
— He would impose a minimum suspension of one game, maximum of five games.
— He would also impose the maximum allowable fine (which Shanahan did.)