Of all the decisions Brendan Shanahan has been forced to make in the playoffs, perhaps none has been more controversial than his decision to fine, not suspend, Shea Weber for smashing Henrik Zetterberg’s face into the boards.
Although on second thought, the Andrew Shaw suspension has been pretty controversial.
And the Matt Carkner suspension was pretty controversial.
And the Carl Hagelin suspension was pretty controversial.
Whatever. That’s not the point. The point is, the Weber ruling (a $2,500 fine) drew a lot of criticism for its perceived leniency.
There’s also a theory that it paved the way for all the other offenses we’ve seen since the ruling, i.e. If Weber can smash a guy’s face into the boards and get away with it, then I’m going to (fill in the blank with your choice of violence).
Today, Zetterberg was asked if there was some validity to the theory.
“That could be true,” he said, as per WXYZ-TV in Detroit.
“I think the league had a pretty good opportunity to set the bar, and I guess they did.”
Personally I’m not completely sold on the theory. For example, I don’t think Carkner attacked Brian Boyle because he thought he’d get a slap on the wrist like Weber did – he did it to stick up for a teammate, plain and simple.
And I doubt James Neal was running around taking shots at Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier because he thought he’d get away with it – he did it because the Penguins were losing and he was, quite frankly, freaking out.
That said, if the general attitude among the players is that the NHL is soft on crime, then the Weber ruling probably didn’t help.